(ORIGINAL PUBLISH DATE: April 24th through my newsletter)
It’s getting warmer warmer warmer in Joshua Tree and it feels amazing!
While writing in my journal before dawn this morning, I opened the back window of the Scamp to invite in some fresh air.
There was no chill on that breeze. Just the promise of a sweet, easy day with temperatures rising into the high 80’s.
One really doesn’t even have to wear pants today! That’s how easy it is outside.
Wouldn’t it be be sooo nice if life felt this easy all the time? The no-pants-needed kind of easy?
Sigh. To think perchance to dream…
Alas. Life is not that way.
Which brings me to the theme of this note:
Before you can “feel better” you have to be willing to feel.
Over the past month, I’ve been leading quite a few Somatic Experiencing® stress and trauma processing sessions with people around the country via video call. These people have really hard stuff happening.
Stuff like legitimate fears around whether their money will run out. Or experiencing the return of long suppressed childhood abuse. Or having a life-threatening illness/condition. Or loss of a dear loved one. Or major questions about their purpose going forward.
These people, understandably, want to feel better.
And I want to help them feel better!
But, as I’ve noticed time and again, we can’t feel better until we are willing to feel.
To be willing to feel means you fully entertain all the sensations that come with the hard stuff of life.
Like that Rumi poem says:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture…
Feeling better in my work nowadays is not about choosing positive thoughts, or about overriding pain with pleasurable techniques.
Yes, I have a plethora of positive affirmations I could offer. I’ve also got a big ol’ barrel of feel-good breathing and movement techniques.
But they don’t lead to the capacity to access peace through all the stuff of life – they just lead to temporary good feelings. Then life, in all its texture, is there waiting after the happy hormones subside.
Those temporary good feelings are no longer interesting to me.
Of course I like having the tools, just like I enjoy having huckleberry, hibiscus and wild camomile in my tea collection. They’re nice. They’re pleasant. I find them soothing.
But they don’t do the work.
The work is to learn how to feel what you feel and stay present. The work is to rock with the pain, like a kind parent holding a crying child in their lap – let it be until the tremors subside and the deep breaths return.
I know it’s not easy. But it’s so, so worth it.
You have more strength, more courage, more heart, than anyone has ever given you credit for.
Bit by bit, present moment by present moment, you can feel it all… and this will lead to feeling better in the long run.
But the only way out is through.
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