Expanding Horizons

This world is filled with hurt people who, in turn, inevitably hurt others. Whether it’s done consciously or not, it is contagious. Each time we can remove the barriers we have created around our emotions, we free ourselves (and others) from mental and emotional slavery; even if only by degrees. In so doing, we become more resilient and flexible instead of stoic, hard and fragile AF; individually and as a species. In expanding beyond these confines, we also help free others to do the same. Please do your part to undo the harmful teachings of emotional suppression. Everyone needs you. Everyone. Today, I review a few strategies that you can add to your arsenal!

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions,”

Brene Brown

In past posts, I’ve repeatedly described “diving into” an emotion to observe it and to alchemize it. Today’s strategy focuses on expansion, because Love is expansion where fear is a contraction; two ends of the same spectrum. To move from a state of feeling overwhelmed by our emotions to a state of freedom with the same emotions frees ourselves from the spell, allowing us to see and feel more clearly.

The technique is simple to describe and can be somewhat challenging, at first, to perform. After identifying a strong emotion, do a “search” of your body and find where the emotions “lives.” While loosely holding our inner vision on these areas, imagine expanding laterally (or in any other or in all directions). Continue to breathe, out and in (the exhale or out breath is where we release) as slowly and deeply as you are able. It may take a few breaths to feel relief or a sense of release. Do your best to stay with it for as long as possible. It may require a repeated effort if the emotional baggage is large (makes sense right, the larger the suit case the longer it can take to unpack!). It’s almost as if the emotional cloud just evaporates and we feel as we do after a torrential rain has passed.

Yes, I see where this all seems contradictory and confusing. I ask you to trust me and try it.  As any new skill can require some practice, you may find that at first you only gain traction with this technique by degrees; which is still better than the alternative: sitting there with all of the shitty feeling emotions festering within. Really, what have you got to lose? But wait, this next thing may just help you even more…

Another strategy is to imagine yourself rising above the emotions or situation as if you were in a helicopter. This helicopter technique, given to me by my Creative Life Coach, Samantha “Sam” Allen, was what lead to my discovering of the expansion process I outlined above. In that particular coaching session, I was feeling completely stuck in a contracted emotional state and the “rising above it” in a mental helicopter helped free me from my self-imprisonment almost immediately.

To break the cycle of emotional suppression, we must learn to employ varying strategies to free ourselves from the habit of contracting against our emotions; which will not kill us, in fact, emotional suppression leads to dis-ease. Who wants to live with that?! Not I!

Happy Expanding!!! I say, it’s better to expand the mind than it is the waistline!

Namaste

Sidebar: Wish I had a good reason to share for why I have not posted in 6 months. The passion to write got lost somewhere in the mix of day-to-day, I suppose. I have also been working to distill observations and breakthroughs into memes on IG (@unfilteredheart77), on a more regular basis. It is my hope to publish at least one post a month in 2020.

photo credit: pixel

In Lack of Control & The Miracles that Followed

One primary persona of mine is to walk with confidence and appear to be “calm and under control;” the emotions pour out later. In this “mode,” I can hear my father’s mantra to be “calm, cool and collected” reverberating in my cranium. Recently, that persona broke wide the eff open for me. While it’s been an ongoing process of chipping away at this persona, on this particular day I had a very significant breakthrough.

My son was having an escalating series of temper tantrums. My attempt to control the situation and de-escalate it was only causing further … escalation. Based on a recent read of the book, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, I saw where my need to seem in control was a direct result of my feeling that I lacked control. Literally, a light went off in one of the deepest (and darkest?) recesses of my mind. Once I affirmed that I was, indeed, not in control, I surrendered to my higher power and asked for guidance. I spoke to this event in the post Learning to be Secure.

The M.O. from the Past

In trying to prove to myself and to the world that Tiffany had it under control, I hid where I was not under control. Or tried to. I have had an emotional eating addiction for … probably my whole life. This is one of the ways that I both punish myself for my feelings (eating ’til it hurts) and then hide my feelings by stuffing my emotions down, down, down…

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I learned to smile and put on a good game face; well kinda. One practitioner poignantly described me as being “zippered up.” Yet the muscles of my body reveal my guarded and “under control” tendency. Even with regular massages, I have held onto a great deal of tension; more than most.

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I would attempt to control myself, my environment and … even those in it. Wow! That last one is a challenge to admit. Yet, as a physical therapist I develop (and control) treatment plans everyday. What a great profession to be in for someone who secretly wants to control everything and everyone… understand, I believed it was an act of self-preservation, not mind-control.

Where & why the control most likely started

This control is not so much about power for the sake of power, it’s more about my feeling safe. As a child, I was in situations where I was abused by “trusting” adults who manipulated and controlled me. From this, I believed that my body was not safe, that I had to control others – and myself – to be safe. From this abuse, I also didn’t believe I could trust people; especially those who were meant to protect me. Further more, I felt effing powerless, and hence the cycle starts over, feeding into itself. So for me, being in control has meant that it was harder for someone else to harm me.

Back to the Breakthrough

Yet on this fateful day, I chose differently. In recognizing my lack of control and giving up control to my higher power, I received greater clarity in everyday things. This has helped me to make wiser choices. The irony! Instead of being ruled by my fear of loss of control, I’m seeing that I have little control outside of my own choices, and now my choices are more clear, thus giving me …. more control! Yet in a different way, in that the control factor is no longer based in fear.

It is my hope that in sharing, you will find a greater understanding about yourself or perhaps a “control freak” that is in your life. The more we can understand and have compassion, the less turbulence we each create in our world.

May we each find a greater sense of peace in better understanding ourselves and others. 

Namaste

The Fear of Being Loved

For as long as I can remember, I have sought for love. Perhaps it is the hopeful and “hopeless romantic” within (see Enneagram 4). There has always been this underlying feeling of being incomplete; an irredeemable deficiency as described by Ian Morgan Cron, a fellow “4”.

In diving into this incessant need to be loved and even validated through relationship, I found that underneath the push, that I have deeply fear being loved. Initially, this was quite a shock for me to see. Yet, in looking back, I see this has been clearly reflected to me, repeatedly ad nauseam, in the men I have been in relationships with. Heck, I can even see it play out in my friendships.

Every man I’ve dated and many of my friends have been in some way unavailable, most in multiple ways: emotionally unavailable, lacking time, have lived far away, had too many other commitments, or were still stuck on their exes (the latter is in regards to dating, obv). These are not pock shots at anyone, I share this as it is a direct reflection of where I was unavailable; even if my being unavailable showed up differently….

I seem to be like a moth with the flame. While I want to be in close friendships and even in a lovingly relationship, I am now acutely aware of where I have not wanted to get too close. I push forward, then I pull away. This is indicative of having a fearful attachment; where I both seek love and yet when I find it that very love is also scary AF.

Taking things a step further, I see where it also plays out with my children. While I have improved some, there are times when I feel there is something “I must do right now” on my phone or a chore in the home, when in reality, the majority of the time it really could wait until later; meanwhile my kids wait for me to finish my task. I put them/love on hold instead of putting the task on hold…

This had been unintentional/unconscious on my part. Now, I see where the push and pull has negatively affected me and my ability to relate with others. With this new awareness in mind, I have been doing body scans, observing the places where I feel contracted. It seems to be helping, because I’m noticing I’ve becoming less afraid to live unfiltered; more authentically.

May we each see and acknowledge our fears, to release ourselves from their grip. May we each recognize and accept the places in our lives where we have blocked out love; allowing us to love more freely. 

Namaste

A very helpful meditation to help with sitting with anger

 

Moving from Resentment into Freedom (it’s easier than you may think…)

In working to bring forward more inner light, there was an exercise in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (Debbie Ford) that instructed the reader to write letters to people in their lives who needed to be forgiven; to be clear, who the reader needed to forgive. I found myself thoroughly procrastinating on and resisting this exercise.

Finally, I started to write out to the first person on my list that I was willing to forgive him. Immediately the memories flooded back along with the emotional anguish and heartache. My next sentence was something akin to “eff that, there is part of me that absolutely doesn’t want to forgive you.” In my mind, I felt like a young child crossing her arms after stomping her feet and chanting, “I don’t wanna.”

This mental tempter tantrum went of for several moments. Then the miracle happened: it was as if the scoreboard was wiped clean; I no longer felt the resistance to forgiveness. It was in acknowledging and allowing myself to NOT want to forgive this man of his trespasses that I was able to forgive him and my emotional burdens were also released.

Later, I started write a forgiveness letter to myself. Almost immediately, I began to feel sad and angry about some work-related and financial aspects in my life. Things for which I have felt that had I “chosen differently” would not be factors holding me back. I then allowed myself to throw another mental temper tantrum about how I didn’t want to let go of my anger and sadness at myself. I wanted to hold onto my pain because it was all I had known. Yet, once again, the miracle of fully allowing my resistance actually freed me. After all, we cannot rebel where there is nothing to resist against….

I share these experiences with you in the hopes that you will see that holding back your “negative” emotions just holds you back from being free of them. A wise woman repeatedly told me “the pain is in the resistance.” These experiences have shown me, on a deeper level, just what she was telling me.

May we each give ourselves permission to acknowledge and allow the emotions that hold us back, so that we may be free of them.

Namaste

I find that shredding paper and making mosaics can be very helpful when I’m feeling stuck. The beauty is more in the creatively destructive process than in the final products.

This is my chained and unforgiving heart

This is my open, crowned and passionate heart

In the Presence of Beauty

She was stunningly beautiful. Like someone you’d see on a magazine cover, except this was real life, without fancy camera angles, perfect lighting and airbrushing. Even though I am hetero, I had a difficult time keeping my eyes off of her. She was poised, beautiful and exuded a sense of calm. Yet, her proximity to me triggered my sense of ugly, unworthy and it frustrated me to some degree, showing me where I still felt incomplete.

While I am the most comfortable that I’ve ever been “in my own skin,” this woman rattled my own sense of self. It was curious more than alarming, as I understood that the trigger was the symptom of an unloved part within showing up to be loved. This was a new tac for me; prevailing curiosity over alarm.

It was also somewhat humorous, given that I felt as if I were in one of those awkward teen movies set in the 80’s. “Pretty in Pink” comes to mind, maybe because of the title; although neither of us was wearing pink. While I didn’t have braces, I did have those awkward teeth straightening trays that I needed to remove and replace… more ugly! (Don’t worry friends, there’s a plot twist up ahead…)

Later that evening, I was reading through a chapter in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford which helped explain to me what I had experienced. I was “light shadow projecting.” By focusing on the stunning beauty of this woman, I was giving away my own right to be beautiful. I was then able to see where I was disowning my “light” and projecting it onto her. Anything we suppress or disown in ourselves we keep in our shadows; whether the trait is considered positive or negative. 

In reading further, I uncovered 80 (yes, 80) positive traits that I have not been able to accept about myself. Over the next 27 days, I have chosen to affirm and use EFT Tapping on 3 traits/day (am doing beautiful twice, for good measure). I’ve set reminders in my calendar to help keep me focused and on track (now just to be sure I stick to it and follow through…).

In case you’re curious, these were the 80 traits I found difficult to accept about myself:

connected, alive, satisfied, powerful, cherished, secure, affluent, gentle, supported, enlightened, wanted, loved, realized, extravagant, lovable, brilliant, decisive, sensual, successful, irresistible, radiant, worthy, calm, delicious, open, carefree, cheerful, compassionate, easy going, joyful, peaceful, patient, sexy, famous, just, forgiving, disciplined, acknowledged, alive, responsible, adored, fulfilled, happy, content, energetic, desirable, playful, confident, beautiful, credible, accepting, blissful, vivacious, flexible, courageous, fearless, whole, precious, wonderful, healthy, vulnerable, superstar, talented, radiant, choice-maker, capable, magnificent, rich, wise, attractive, simple, honored, whole, adored, venerated, complete, talented, holy, centered, poised.

So if I ever see her again, I’ll be more accepting of myself and the beauty within my own skin.

May we each find peace within the fullness of our own light; avoiding projecting our best (and worst) onto others. May we see our own unique qualities as the gifts they are, and the gifts that we are, to this World – and in so doing, may we make the world a better place by accepting our own unique greatness; expressing it freely gives others the freedom to do the same.

Namaste

Overcoming Grief: Being Beside Oneself

This blog is peppered with various strategies for moving through emotional turmoil. Tonight, I experienced a new strategy that was more efficient than others I’ve used so far.

Wednesday’s are transition days for me, and they stand as a reminder of where my life is not how I had planned. Having the day off made today a less distracted and thus a more emotionally charged Wednesday than usual.

While sitting with my emotions, I used my usual alchemy techniques and while the edges were less sharp, the heaviness of grief still weighed on me. It was then that I felt myself “beside myself.” Then I began to assure my “beside self” that I had every right to feel every bit of what I was feeling; even down to my desires to smash things, which weren’t okay desires to follow through, yet I acknowledged they were okay to feel.

So now I sit, no longer needing to be beside myself, reintegrated, and more at peace with myself and this situation. Yes, there is still some work to do, yet it already feels that much better.

May we each find our inner path to peace, understanding that what we feel is what we feel and it’s really okay to feel; self-validation. Understanding that just because we feel it doesn’t mean we must live it. And that blocking our feelings prevents us from fully living.

Namaste

Healing the Sense of Brokenness

When we feel broken or incomplete, we seek external fixes from which to feel whole. Maybe we seek this “fix” from others, through our behaviors (shopping, chemical dependencies and even positive things such as working out) or we may even just outright deny there is even a problem. Maybe we lash out and and get short with the bank teller, our loved ones or another motorist; thus creating more trauma. Until we go within, these external “fixes” are merely band-aids.

When we feel broken, we rarely take the time to look at the beliefs that lead to this feeling, this perception. To heal this feeling is to give the hurt what it needs. Often it is love, sometimes it is recognition, or it may be attention or something even as simple as breathing into it. Each of these is a form of surrender.

It is in seeing our pain for what it needs and giving it just that thing which allows us to heal. Sometimes we may need to reach out and ask for help and support from our Higher Power, or from friends and family. For it is in asking for support that we also surrender. In asking for support we also allow the vulnerability of connection, helping others to identify their own needs and meet them…thus perpetuating the healing.

May we each see our wounds for what they need and then meet those needs, with or without the help others. With each wound that is freed from bondage we, as a collective, are also set free.

Namaste

Celebrating the Pause

Yesterday marked the half-way mark between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. It is interesting that many of us may also find ourselves in transition during this time. I most certainly do!

There is a mixture of excitement and restlessness here. As a very goal-oriented person, it is a challenge for me to feel settled when not working on specific goals. Learning to surrender into this space of unknowing, as if awaiting my next set of orders, creates some anxiety for me. However, I’m learning to recognize the parts of me that want to push and push; pushing is so exhausting!

A great meditation on Insight Timer, which found me, is subtitled “Divine Laziness.” There is so much beauty and wisdom in this space between; in the surrender. Breathing deeply into the unknown also gives a sense of freedom.

May we each find peace in the spaces between what was and what is yet to be. There is SO much potential here, if we can just be patient enough to allow it to be. 

Namaste

img_4496

 

Shifting Purpose & Writer’s Block

white cassette tape
Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

In a way, I feel as if this “head cleaning cassette tape” were something I had used on myself! And thus I have also “dated” myself… 

What does one write about when the purpose of writing has suddenly disappeared? This blog was born out of my desire desperate need to understand and share my process of self-discovery. It was as if I were an archaeologist who dreamt of Indiana Jones’ type adventures and yet found herself waist-deep in sh*t,  sifting through sand, muck and rubbish seeking the hidden treasures within.

YET, plot twist?! The main drive behind this was more to uncover the source of the deep foreboding sense that there was something terribly, horribly, indescribably wrong with me at my core. We’re talkin’ Apollo 1 type of ‘this ship won’t launch and kills everyone on board’ sense of messed up feeling at my very core. 

Looking back, I see where I did my absolute best during this process to focus on the light, to focus on the “lessons on the other side of the pain.” And some days it seemed the more I reached for the light, the more “the evasive darkness at the core” haunted me more.

Enter the Dragon: Enneagram 4
After delving into the Enneagram 4 personality, I had a profoundly freeing “EUREKA!” life-altering-180-degree-countenance-shifting moment where the pervasive and heavy feeling of my faulty core became but a speck instead of a burgeoning and endless well. For fours, it is part of our nature to have this sense of an “irredeemable deficiency.” Hearing other fours acknowledge this lead to my accepting this as “part of my condition,” and allowed the Dragon to do its quick-work to melt away the dross, eliminating the need to further excavate.

Rubicon Crossed: Check Mark… & now what?!
Now, I have magically crossed “The Rubicon” and, in a way, I’m experiencing an existential crisis with the blog! My purpose for writing for so long (even pre-blog) was to excavate and DIG. I’d become a digging beast-machine. Now, there is no more need to dig. So now I’m in a place of asking myself, WTF do I do now? The purpose for my writing is …. seemingly gone?!

Yes! There are still things to “work through” and “understand” and “accept,” yet they do not have the “fire” behind them. The best analogy I can think of at the moment is to imagine you have been blogging for nearly 5 years about your experiences of finding, dislodging, accepting and loving this damned annoying and evasive rock lodged in your shoe and then when you finally see the rock you immediately see it is gold, so now your reason for writing is …. effectively gone because your self-help crisis and blog were based on the rock in your shoe. So now what do you write about?! 

A different focus.
Well, I have been posting inspirational memes somewhat daily on Insta (unfilteredheart77). This has required more effort than I had expected, perhaps because of shifting streams and allowing of the memes to unfold. Effortless-effort, as some would call it, can take more time and patience than blogging about the process of “vomiting” my insides out…

Please bear with me as I get comfy in this new understanding; it’s quite nice, really. So MUCH angst is gone. It’s just a matter of getting used to the new so that I can write more again!

May we accept a greater level of peace with our journeys; appreciating more deeply where we find ourselves today.

Namaste

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