Something came up last week as I created space . . . crappy feelings. I was so excited to give aparigraha a chance, to let go of what is no longer serving me. It was a bit of a surprise when the process seemingly brought something in rather than usher something out. In the end, it all unfolded the way it was supposed to. It just took me some time to see it. The negative feelings showed up so I could learn a valuable lesson about accepting what is.
Here’s how it went down.
Our first day of aparigraha mindfulness, I woke in a funk. Not cool. All day long, I ignored those feelings. I stayed busy with writing, I read, I spent time with the family. All the while, there was this negative energy lurking beneath the surface. As much as I tried to push it down, it kept bouncing back up. By bedtime, the tears came full force. The inner voice that I had been trying to silence for hours was now, without distractions, loud and clear.
“Your negativity is so ugly.”
“You are so ugly. And weak. And a phony.”
Ouch! What a mean bitch that inner voice can be!
Besides recognizing another story my mind instinctively tells, I learned something amazing from this experience, and I want to share it with you so your inner mean girl is less likely to have her way with you on not-so-great days.
- Negative, sad, crappy feelings are not ugly. Maybe we don’t love them, but they are a part of being HUMAN. We live in a society that places extreme value on happiness. So much so that we have lost the ability to feel sad without feeling like something is inherently wrong with us. I get it. We all want to experience as much joy in this life as we can. But to believe that there is no place for the opposite only leads straight to shaming when unhappy feelings arise. And arise they will.
- We cannot escape bad feelings. In one of her amazing books, Brené Brown explains it like this . . . Trying to hold down our negative (vulnerable) feelings is like trying to physically hold a fully-inflated beach ball under water. We push down with all our might, yet the ball will wiggle free and pop up to the surface, usually with a messy splash. Metaphysical and mainstream science have both provided clear evidence that holding in the negative cannot occur without consequences. And often, those consequences translate to disease. We must feel the feelings. This is the only way to even begin to free their energy from the body and soul.
- The feelings we don’t want to feel have something to tell us. Listening in and letting these feelings have the floor for a minute, we might see that change is needed, and where that change needs to occur. Maybe it’s as simple as needing more rest. Maybe it’s as important as needing to process childhood trauma, or to set stronger boundaries.
The way out is through. I used to roll my eyes at this quote, too. Brené Brown discusses this also. Too often, when we become uncomfortable with our feelings, we engage in behaviors to numb them. The thing is, we cannot selectively numb ourselves. When we overeat, overdrink, over-sleep, to escape bad feelings, we also miss out on the joy that is waiting to be had.
Feel the feelings, friends. When they jump out and surprise you, be kind. Imagine how you might feel if you went to your bestie with your sadness or frustration and were gruffly told to get over it. Worse yet, what if the person whose shoulder you needed actually called you ugly or weak! We do this to ourselves, and we need to stop.
Also, be open. Negative feelings give us the opportunity to look inward to find the need. Think of a mother asking a small child “where does it hurt, honey? What do you need?” Isn’t that the kind of compassion we all want when we’re in a funk? Listen to what your heart is telling you, then give it to yourself.
Finally, be real. Understand that all of our feelings have merit. All. Of. Them. If we never endured those that were difficult, we could never know the fullness of joy.
There is a beautiful song by Jason Mraz that goes:
and it takes a word to make an action
it takes some work to make it work
it takes some good to make it hurt
it takes some bad for satisfaction
la la la la la la la life is wonderful
Life IS wonderful. XO