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A Friendly Reminder to Lean In

This post originally appeared in 2012 but the phrase “lean in” has again been running through my head.  As we dig into a new year and the shiny newness gets replaced with the every day, the cold weather and dark nights it is easy to forget that we can always reach out, ask for help we just need to lean in.  I needed the reminder and thought you might too. 

Lately the phrase ‘lean in’ has been running through my brain.  Lean in such a simple and wonderful reminder.  Lean into the hugs my nearest and dearest gives me.  Lean into the support of friends and family.  Lean into the emotions, joy, sadness, fear.  Once I started paying attention to it and when it showed up I realized, leaning in is something that is helpful to practice in life.

Being the independent soul that I am I tend to pride myself on ‘going it alone’, not needing anybody.  But in all honesty that is a lonely life–we need to lean in–reach out–share our story and ask for help.  Frequently when my husband gives me a hug I will remind myself to ‘lean in’ take the hug for all it’s worth.  Or when I am having a stressful day and my first inclination is to forge ahead, dig deeper and become a virtual stress machine I will remind myself to ‘lean in’ to my nearest and dearest, ask for help, get vulnerable and do a little leaning. When I lean in life gets better, my relationships get stronger, my piece of mind is greater, I am happier.  It isn’t my first response, it isn’t the easiest response but it is a helpful response.

Leaning in is the opposite of running from. Duh you might say, but most of us spend a lot of time running from our negative emotions, the unhappy parts of our lives, our fears, our shame etc.  When we can stop the run, lean in and face what we are running, we can diminish it’s strength, that much faster.  Leaning in is not an intuitive action (at least not for me) it is something I have to remind myself to do.

Sometimes, after my nearest and dearest and I have a fight and we have gone to bed I lie there feeling raw and exposed. My instinct is to shut down and close off and then I hear my wise self quietly whispers “lean in. So I roll over and give him a hug and I feel us both relax. I remind myself we are a team and I am safe and everything is ok. Lean in, take a breath, feel the feelings, and then take action.

Leaning in requires vulnerability.  It requires us to do the opposite of what is comfortable.  So it is best to lean in the ‘safe people’ in our lives to share the struggles and the joys. Yes, we even have to be reminded to lean in to the joys of our life.  Too often, we are so afraid that if we celebrate too much the joy will vanish or by celebrating we aren’t being modest enough and we will suffer some consequence. Lean in.

If you think of walking down the street on a windy day, the easiest way to maneuver is to lean in to the wind.  Standing straight and tall, being rigid and stoic will just make it that much more difficult to walk.  If you can link arms with someone as you walk through the wind, it gets even easier.  When we lean in we naturally relax and we are able to shift and move as needed.  The wind is still there, but rather than fighting against it we are moving with it.

Where in your life could you use a little ‘lean in’?

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