Viewing entries tagged
emotional balance

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Getting Comfortable With Discomfort- Your Own and Others

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The look on my teenager’s face was one of complete distraught. She was angry and hurt and confused and fearful of what I would do next.  I was fearful too. I knew the decision I had to make and it was not the one she wanted. I was going to have to dig down and let go of my fear of her feeling the pain to make the decision that was best for her…in my opinion. This parenting gig can be so damn hard.

And I did. I made the call I knew she’d resent me for and she looked at me like there was no one on the planet that could hurt her more than I just did.  She composed herself respectfully until we got into the car and she let me have it.

Anger and tears and “how could you’s?!” spit out of her on repeat.  Seething disgust that I had taken control away from her and made decisions for her. I am raising her to be independent and make her own decisions, so for the life of her, she couldn’t grasp why I would take it away.

I know that feeling. The one where you can’t accept that someone has some level of control over your life. I don’t do well with it either. And I knew it was going to hurt and it did. Both of us…deeply. But I also knew that underneath my fear (of exactly that moment) it was going to get better. I just wanted it better now.

The part of me that doesn’t want to see another in pain wanted so badly to make it go away. To find the quick fix and dissolve it.  But I wasn’t given an answer or an idea that would do that. So we were stuck with sitting with the discomfort and feeling the pain.

After a few hours of separation and her ability to fiercely hold on to her anger and hurt, I felt stuck again when I saw her. The next decision was the hardest.

I wanted to distract her from her sorrow. I wanted to take the pressure off myself. I wanted her to stop being angry at me… but I KNEW that’s not what my job was. It was to be near her, to respect her pain, and to respect mine in the process. It was to give us both space to feel the discomfort and let it be what it is. Uncomfortable.

So I sat with her while she cried and told me how wrong I was. And then I held her…because I knew she was ready. Not a moment before.  And she let me. That’s when I knew it was going to be okay….because it always is.

As a professional counselor, I know the hardest part of my job is when the BEST thing I can do with another person is to sit with them through their pain. To let them wade through the muck and feel the choking sensations of sorrow and offer my hand so they don’t feel alone walking through it.

It is, by far, the most emotionally draining part. It rubs up against the part of the me that does not like to feel helpless, despite knowing that giving them room to feel and know they are not alone IS Helping.  To be their guide in darkness until they see their own light.

I find this much easier when it’s a client I’m working with where the relationships has its established boundaries. When it comes to people I have a close connection with, it’s much harder. It’s uncomfortable to feel other people’s pain as is, but throw in being emotionally attached to the outcome. It’s HARD.  And yet, the practice is the same.

Sit with the discomfort and know, sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

We live in a quick fix, pill popping, make the pain go away fast kind of society. Why? Because we are uncomfortable with feeling the challenging emotions.  And when we are uncomfortable with our own, we certainly are not going to be comfortable with being around someone else’s. 

We have this desire to avoid and distract and it turns out, that doesn’t actually make the underlying concerns go away. They will continue to return until they are responded to in a way that pleases them.  And usually what pleases them is what makes us curse and complain and question why the same issues keep popping up. Super annoying.

So how can we practice this? How can we get comfortable being in the space with those who are uncomfortable and hurting? By allowing ourselves to feel without attempting to make it go away as quickly as possible.

And that starts with us. 

Get comfortable with you.

When you feel an emotion that is unsettling, lean into it. If its anger, let yourself heat up and get tight and feel the sensations that come with it. Allow them to be what they are.  Listen to the voices that come with them. Who are you really mad at? Who do you feel has your power? And how can you take it back?  Sit with it a little longer, then release it through screaming in a pillow or in a place you are by yourself, or do some physical activity to let it out. Even jumping jacks or shaking out your body in the moment.

If its sadness, let it rise to the top. If there are tears, let them roll out. If you feel like you are being swallowed up, breathe through that sensation. Let it be what it is. The more you let it come up and be felt, the sooner it will resolve itself.

If it’s guilt, ask it questions. What have you learned from it and how will you change your responses and behavior based on what you now know?  When you practice forgiving yourself, you take away the power of the past and bring it to the present. And the present is the only place we can actually create change.  Why not allow yourself to be there?

As you practice becoming comfortable with your own emotions, it will become easier to sit with others through theirs.  Disappointment is a part of life and you don’t want to get rid of your experiences because they make you into the beautiful and unique person you are. Allowing yourself to feel can shorten the discomfort of your clinging need for pain. Relief is always just around the corner.  Keep reading...

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5 Highly Effective Ways to Practice Trusting Yourself

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I have this really weird job where I get paid to listen and give advice reflecting back what I’m hearing…on how you can best live your life. I mean, in theory, I would really have to know what I’m talking about to be trusted with such an important task. Who am I to tell you how to live a life that feels right for you? I’m not living in it. In truth, I’m some chick that has a few pieces of paper in a closet somewhere that deems me an “expert.” Is that enough?

Nope. It’s not.

Why do I know I can be trusted? Because I trust myself.

Most of the people who show up in my office or in my inbox are at a point where they simply don’t trust themselves and the information they are getting from the outside world. They are confused and feel lost from strong emotions that have them down, anxious and angry. They struggle with understanding the events around them and their purpose and are not sure what steps to take next because the ones they are taking don’t seem to be getting them on a path they want to be.

And I, with all my own expertise in feeling lost and sad and anxious and angry, can thoroughly relate. I know what it’s like to question my every move and hope that my decisions are “good enough” or won’t steer me down a dark alleyway that will leave me feeling terrified I took a very bad turn.

Because of this, I also know the only way off of this merry go round of confusion is to TRUST. Trust that I know what I’m doing and I can’t screw it up, and trust the process of life that won’t let me even if I could. How do I know I can trust? Because I practice---every single day.

And I really mean practice. Some days it all seems obvious that I can not and will not mess it up, or it won’t get screwed up for me. Other days, I am nearly certain that I have no idea what I’m doing and I need all the support I can get to reassure me that I do. I’ll fill myself with fear and have to go through my mental checklist of why I know that is not true. It can be pretty tiresome, but on the days that I see the truth, that I really do know what I’m doing---it’s all completely worth it.

The tricks and practices I use to help me on my off days are pretty simple, and also super effective.

1. Write Out My Fears

List them all out. What are the fear voices telling me? What’s the worst case scenario?  Once I’ve identified the fears, I write down what I am in control of and what I am not in control of.  Are there things I can do to help alleviate my fears? Action steps I can take? If so, write them down and choose which ones I’ll do. And the ones I’m not in control of? Well, that leads me to practice #2.

2. Identify My Core Beliefs- What Do I Believe In?

I believe in a power that is greater than me. Sometimes I call it the Universe, sometimes I call it God, sometimes I call it Life.  One of my clients calls it the Tarantula Gods. That creeps me out and makes me laugh at the same time. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. What do you believe is its purpose and what is the impact you feel it has on your life? I believe both you and I are connected to this power intuitively.  You may even call it your Higher Self- your intuition that knows what it’s doing.

I believe that all of our experiences happen for a reason and that we are guided by this power to help us out along the way. I also believe that we are supported by this power and we are given what we need to keep us safe, comfortable and to live and thrive. So, when I am struggling to trust myself, or when I feel I am not in control of something, I go back to my core beliefs and remember that I am supported already and I will be more than okay…because I always am. Which leads me to practice #3.

3. I Use My Past as Proof

 I have spent lots of time worrying about things that never happened. I tried to mentally control them with my mind. It turns out, that never actually works. Sometimes I feared the worst until the bitter end and was proven that the worst was only in my mind. It rarely ever comes to fruition. And if it did, I learned some invaluable knowledge I wouldn’t have learned if the outcome had been different. Something positive always rises from the challenges. Whether it’s knowledge, or strength or an experience that is life altering in a powerful way- the good balances out the difficult parts. Every time. 

When I look at my past, I see that I am always supported and there is nothing I can not handle. I am always given what I need when I need it. And usually, the fears are just ideas that get replaced with the next one. They simply are thoughts ready to be acknowledged and moved on from.

4. I Listen- To Myself

I listen to my feelings. I let myself feel them and tell me where it is I want to be. This is my intuition speaking to me. I recognize the answers that feel right. I take out the fear to make them more clear. I let myself look at whatever it is and ask if I fully trusted, what would I do? This is what helps me manage the clutter in my mind. I let myself feel and I remind myself that my feelings do not steer me wrong. Because in truth, there is no wrong. Every direction takes me where I say I want to go. The road there may just look different.

5. I Ask For Perspective, Not Advice

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you feel stuck. It’s helpful to hear other perspectives. Then you can determine what feels right for you and take away what you want and leave behind what you don’t.

But, this is a big one. When we don’t trust ourselves, it’s easy to ask other people for their opinion or view.

We feel maybe they know more than we do. We trust their life experiences over our own.The danger with this is that often people give advice through their own filter which means, they may speak through their fears or experiences that left them feeling distrustful.

What’s right for them, may not be what’s right for you. The best advice is your own.

If you have someone who can reflect back what you are saying and feeling to you in a way that makes it not about them- this is awesome. And valuable.
But the key is to look at your feelings, not theirs. Only yours are designed for you.

Trust is a practice. And that is okay. Fear is a normal part of life and it has its purpose.  It’s important for us to feel all of our emotions so we can pick and choose the ones we want to focus on.  Keep Reading...

 

 

 

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Living Serendipitously

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Serendipity occurs for us even when we are not paying attention…

In my early 20’s, while trying to figure out what I was meant to do, I felt stuck. I was studying psychology in college, and it didn’t feel right. My initial passion to learn what makes people tick began to dwindle the more classes I took. The college I attended was focused on research, and the theories presented seemed to make simple processes unnecessarily complicated. I was frustrated and discouraged and unsure if I was on the right path for me.

I had a strong drive to help others but not in the way I was learning. I felt alone in my struggle and confused by the direction. The summer before going into my senior year of college, I wondered if I should change my course as I neared the end of this phase. Since I was good at keeping my fears to myself, it came as a surprise when my brother suggested I read a book that inspired him. That was the first time he recommended anything to me. I took his advice and read the book… the book I had unknowingly been waiting for.

In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, a renowned psychologist, wrote of his accounts as a prisoner in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. He shared the horrific stories of the violence he witnessed and how he survived. He also shared the theory he developed that there is a purpose to all of our experiences and we can find meaning in just about anything.

A focus on the good. The gifts in the midst of chaos. The opportunity to grow and prosper from whatever we are faced with.

This was how I saw life, and this man who had experienced so much trauma saw it too. It was this book, his experiences, and views, which reminded me I was headed in the right direction for me. It was the serendipity, the unexpected gift, the reminder I needed to keep going.

Life is serendipitous. It is filled with unexpected pleasures, gifts, and opportunities. Our experiences are meant to be. And we are supported in these experiences, even the ones that feel like they are tearing us down.

Our lives are designed for us to learn, grow and experience joy. All of us. We are given opportunities through our relationships, our jobs, our children, our playtimes, our accidents, our illnesses, our losses, our chance meetings with strangers and a whole host of other ways, to learn about ourselves and how we give and receive love.

We are given choices and hints and whispers and sometimes shouts of which direction to go next and it is up to us decide how we want to live our lives. Each decision we make creates new opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes these opportunities feel challenging and painful, and sometimes they are so filled with ease we wonder if they are real. They are all real, and they are all for us.

How do we know this? How can we trust it? By creating the proof. By practicing awareness that hope and grace surround us. All we have to do is open ourselves up to it and receive.  

Each day listen to your inner voice to create some of the joy you are looking for. Start to take note of the good things that are happening to you and around you. Notice when someone compliments you when you least expect it and how it feels. Notice when your children give you an extra hug and tell you they love you. Notice when you thought you couldn’t pay your bill and the money showed up at the last minute, or you were given an extension when you asked. Notice the opportunities that appear “out of the blue.”

Notice the ideas that are repetitive in your thoughts and how good it feels when you follow through and trust them. Notice that when you take care of yourself, your mood starts to shift quickly, as does your perspective.

Notice how when you felt grief over loss, your friends and family stopped what they were doing to lift you up. Notice how the disagreement that was long overdue with someone you love allowed you to start communicating more openly and honestly. Notice all the things that bring you joy and see how they multiply. Not in how often they occur, but in how often you let them into your heart with awareness.

The more you focus on the good and see the gifts in every day, no matter what is going on, you train yourself to see the temporariness of situations, especially the uncomfortable ones. You begin to recognize....Keep Reading 

 

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