I don't know what to call it, the optimists curse, the delusion of gratitude. I have been having a revolution the past weeks in how I approach my uncomfortable emotions and thought I would share. A few simple shifts have totally changed the way I relate.
Recently my mom called me out on a tendency I have and it sparked an awakening for me. Hallelujah for the friends and loved ones that call us out on our shit!
I was telling her about a looming sense of sadness I was feeling. This heaviness in my heart. Nothing over-whelming, just there.
It didn't make any sense to me. Everything in my life is seemingly great, a loving relationship, building a business, living the dream..blah blah.
Why am I sad?!
I shared with my mom that in the moments I was feeling sadness, I would try to reflect on all of the things in my life that I am grateful for. To you know.... snap out out if. Find the butterflies and sunsets..
My mom blew the whistle and her simple words changed my perspective completely.
Why don't you just feel it instead?
Why don't you just feel it instead.
Fuck the desire to change our discomfort, our sadness into gratitude or joy, or anything else.
Fuck the idea that happy people don't get sad.
That sadness and suffering should be avoided. That sadness is not okay.
When my mom suggested I just feel it, whatever emotion I was experiencing in that moment, I was overcome with a deep rooted sense of relief.
When we yield, allow, and make space for our pain, our suffering, we are dosing ourselves with a delicious and huge act of self acceptance.
The next time you feel uncomfortable, sad or angry, just pause.
How does my body feel? Where am I tense and tight? How does my chest feel, my jaw? My heart? Don't try to amend or change anything. Settle into it.
When we take our noticing to this visceral and most base level it is amazing what can happen.
I have started to apply this mindfulness and here are some immediate benefits I have noticed:
When I pause and physically feel an emotion often it dissolves or changes into something else quite quickly. This has allowed me to understand the impermanence of our emotions. Our emotions are really based on our ideas or thoughts about how things are or how things should be. As we notice the shifting landscape of our emotions we can in turn begin to discern when to act and when to sit still.
That discernment or moment of pause changes everything.
As we sit with our sadness or suffering we come to know ourselves better. We become more familiar with deep seeded pains that we carry with us. We encounter pain that has been pushed below the surface for so long. The pain we carry without addressing can manifest itself as ''irrational'' or emotional reaction to small, seemingly unrelated things in our daily lives. We can slowly root to the source of these pains. What idea or belief am I holding on to? What am I scared of? What past pain have I not acknowledged? Further emotional freedom can arise from this understanding.
As we become friendly with our sadness we experience the full spectrum and beauty of being human on a deeper level. We can accept the necessity of pain and suffering and how that relates to joy and contentment. We see the absolute need for both and find beauty in that truth. When we experience our emotions with less and less story attached, without giving them a name "good or bad," the perceived difference between happiness and suffering becomes less stark. We find contentment and ease in accepting the nature of both.
We know the beauty of suffering as a catalyst to greater compassion, a catalyst toward growth and more understanding.
As one of my favourite teachers Thich Naht Hahn so simply states: Here is the mud, and there is the lotus flower that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.