When Feeling Stuck…

The past few months life has moved forward much like someone learning to drive a stick shift with a mixture of smooth sailing, lurching forward, stalling, bucking, and screeching halts. Work demands increased, and home life demands seemed to, as well. While I kept up fairly well with much of my self-care, more so than ever during a time of stress, I still felt like I was treading water or drowning more than not. Simply put, I felt stuck in this perpetual liminal or in-between space.

From this extended purgatory of sorts, I’ve learned some new perspectives that can help make the road less bumpy for you.

  • Self-care during this time is crucial. At times, I was resistant about some items yet open and consistent about others. I say, do what you can here. Choose your battles wisely; know who you’re fighting, too… and know that when life “hits the fan,” self-care is needed even more. (I like to use the NASCAR analogy here, that racing around means those cars get more care in 1 race than most of our cars receive in a year or more… maybe I could look up some stats about that one day.)
  • Embrace the slowdown. These transitory rest breaks allow us to rebuild our energy after the ending of one chapter. These spaces also make life seem less clear, and driving faster because we can’t see clearly doesn’t generally work out well for many, for long. I also believe that this slowdown is to allow for taking life differently.
  • Create or find a supportive mantra and use it. Simple ones like, “this too shall pass,” or “this is the breakdown before the breakthrough,” or “I’ve survived this, and more, before. I’ve got this!,” or “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger/wiser, etc.” Find or create a supportive mantra that meets your needs.
  • Journal. Writing can be very helpful during this time to help gain perspective. Personally, I write some dark poetry during this time. It’s therapeutic to “poop” out the thoughts that are no longer needed.
  • Find a new perspective or analogy.
    • It is in this void, this space, where we also get to choose to live life differently.
    • This time is for clearing the path for the next adventure. I recently began to imagine my guides laying down new stepping stones… 

IT’S SO AMAZING when we choose to look at this “mysterious” (and scary) time less as an “undoing” and more as a “remodeling.” If we’re tired of our kitchen, we can choose to keep it just as it is. OR, we can choose to remodel it which involves breaking down the old. There will be some dust and mess, this is part of the process.

Remodeling also takes time. Yet it is in our desire for change that we accept that this is part of the process. We sure as hell don’t stop during this in-between kitchens phase. We know it will not do us ANY good. And we also know that something better is on it’s way so we “suck it up” and go about our day. Of course “we can’t wait” (but we also want it to be right, so we do).

SO! When we find that our path is suddenly not-so-clear, when we feel we are stuck and things seem completely confusing… IF we can begin to see this as part of the remodeling process, we learn to accept it for the “breakdown” that it is. You know, the one that precedes the breakthrough!

May we move with ever increasing grace through those confusing liminal spaces, knowing that while it all seems chaotic now, that a new path is being laid out for us to take. It’s our choice in how we take it: with grace or kicking and screaming all along the way. Mine is often with a mixture of both!

Namaste

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

Race for Peace

Have you ever found yourself rushing to get to your peaceful place? Maybe driving faster or rushing to get out of the office to go home so you can relax? Or do you find yourself thinking things such as, “if only this were not here, I would be okay”? I only ask these questions because I must confess that I have lived them each this week.

Just the other day, I was upset about being late because it cut down on my “relaxation” time before work. It meant less time walking with my bare feet in the sand. It meant less “me time” before show time at work.

Then I looked further back and saw how, at times, I’ve been more easily agitated after a good relaxing meditation?! Because I was not at peace with the “chaos” of that moment. It’s easy to be relaxed when we’re in our happy places, not so much so in the day-to-day.

How can we carry the peace from our yoga mats, from our meditations into our daily lives? Daily life is a practice. In giving ourselves the loving grace both in and outside of our happy places, we begin to see that we are being and doing the best that we can be and do in that moment.

Racing after peace means we are never peaceful. (Much like the pursuit of happiness.) Peace is a state of being. At any given moment we have the choice to be at peace or at war with the present moment. And what we resist, persists. We carry it forward with us into the next moment, days, years, decades, etc. Best to practice being at peace with the present. How can we be at peace when we are at war with the present, with who we are or where we are?

May we each rediscover the peace within that is waiting to be seen, releasing the need to fight against ourselves or to use our stories to keep us embattled. 

Namaste

Shifting Out of Survival Mode: Week 1

While the kettle heats the water for my morning coffee, I light candles and holy wood and I focus on the soles of my feet and where they kiss the floor. The sound of the electric kettle “firing up” is comforting for me; it is familiar and a mainstay in my morning routine. Today, instead of bustling around to get the coffee press set, I pass the smoke from the burning ember of the holy wood in swirling paths around my body, giving extra nurturing and attention to areas of tension, discomfort or distress. This is just one part of the shift I’m making to get myself out of what feels like a life-long pattern of existing in survival mode.

Even with the daily meditation practice, journaling and blogging, life coaching and counseling over the years, I have still been stuck in fight-or-flight mode. Good quality sleep is elusive more nights than not. My muscles may relax for a day or two after a good massage, then they spring back into pre-massage mode – even with stretching, magnesium supplements and frequent Epsom Salt soaks. Behind my calm exterior there has lived a girl who feels constantly on guard, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.

The key that unlocked my understanding? Answering 4 pages of questions about my body’s responses to different circumstances; a questionnaire assigned to me by my naturopath (a wholistic physician). After tallying up the scores for each system, she graphed a grid that showed more than 80% of my systems were in need of “high priority” attention. “This looks like PTSD; everything is hyper-sensitive,” she said calmly. Somehow, this was not a shock and instead was a bit of relief.

We developed a plan of more intensive self-care for the next 2 weeks. At first, I was resistant to the intensity – resistance has been my way as it’s hard to accept change when you already feel overwhelmed by most days.

An important change is taking a more detached or “observation” approach to my emotions. Instead of “diving into them,” which is something I have blogged about ad nauseum, it is important that I stay above my emotions and observe them which is also differentiated from staying above my emotions and ignoring them.

When I notice an emotion that is uncomfortable, I am to observe it to understand what the emotion itself may be. Then I am to give that part of myself that is hurting what it needs. If part of me is feeling lonely, then I am to give that part of myself the attention, love and nurturing it needs. Really, I would encourage you to try it, it is SO much faster and effective than what I have explained in the past.

It turns out that by diving into the emotion, I find comfort in the pain – and then I am reinforcing the pattern. It has been easier for me to feel pain than joy; for to feel joy, I have believed, means it can just as easily be taken away. Turns out I’ve been stuck in survival and victim mode! Yes, it’s way past time to shift this… 

While she did not diagnose me with PTSD, it’s clear that I’ve been stuck in survival mode. There was some freedom in hearing this. Looking back now I see that happiness, joy and feeling-at-ease have been fleeting and generally have been delivered by external circumstances.

Here are some of the survival mode patterns that I’ve noticed:

  • Frequent insomnia or restless sleep unless “everything is perfect”
  • Most externally driven changes are a challenge to accept. My first response: resistance
  • Difficulty connecting with others intimately
  • A near constant struggle to be present – even when things are going well
  • Feeling that I’m treading water and just one big wave from drowning
  • Being more “at ease” when things are uncomfortable than when things are going well. Again, just waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Dampening of any strong emotional response due to the fear of becoming overwhelmed
  • Consistent and significant muscle tension
  • Spending a lot of energy on appearing and radiating a sense of calm!

Usually I would have waited until the end of the 2 weeks to give a retrospective account of what has happened. This, however, seemed too important to wait so long. It is also fitting that today is the Equinox, a good time to choose to shift and make changes.

May we each discover what it is that the hurting parts of us need – and then apply that salve internally, instead of seeking external fixes to our internal issues. May we each shift from a mode of surviving to one of thriving. 

Namaste

Happy Equinox!

Forgiveness

When we hold onto anger against someone else we only hurt ourselves. The anger seeps into our daily interactions and causes more wounds. Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves as we hold ourselves in contempt for wrongs done by ourselves and others. Forgiveness opens our hearts and frees us from the binds of anger. Forgiveness does not mean we condone. Instead, forgiveness is freedom. Even if for a moment, allowing ourselves to feel the grace of forgiveness gives us another degree of freedom.

(C) Tiffany Cara 2017

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Images: Google

Writer’s Block: The Pursuit of Perfection


Words typically flow through my mind like a raging river. Recently, the flow stopped in a way it had never done before. I felt frozen, cold and isolated, as if in a shell. A shell, it turns out, I had imposed upon myself and reinforced.

Breathing through the stagnation, spending more time in meditation and “just writing” were not helping – my usual strategies. My frustration only grew; as did my tendency to catastrophize.

Usually I can walk away from writing if it’s not working. Now that I’ve stepped up my game and started writing a book, I’ve been putting more pressure on myself to produce.


I see how I was pushing against the very thing I desired. The more I pushed myself to write, the less I was able to produce. Much like trying to force yourself to go to sleep; it doesn’t work. Sleep, like creativity, just happens when we allow it to. 

In my pursuit of words, they just ran faster. I also see where I was blocking myself by wanting the words to flow perfectly. I froze and isolated myself with the pursuit of perfection.

Our faith is most tested in the darkness, when we cannot see the light.

Feeling stuck, I reached out to friends for help. I asked for them to see me writing in a warm, sunny and free way. Perhaps this was a lesson in surrender as much as it was in asking for help; something I am loathe to do.

The river’s flow has returned, but in a more subtle way. The words are there, but I must surrender further to hear them.

In taking a step back, I see where I do this in many areas of my life.  Pushing. Pulling. Pursuing perfection. Today, I am surrendering and trusting a little more deeply.

 

Namaste 

Allowing to Let it Go

When we push away the feelings we don’t want to feel, the resisted feelings only grow stronger. It is in breathing through and allowing ourselves to feel (not necessarily act out) our feelings that allows them to move through us. It is gen that we can choose differently; to move forward. Letting go happens when we allow, not when we push things away. 

May we each allow a new voice from within ourselves its space, so we may move forward with a greater sense of grace.

Namaste

(C) 2017 Tiffany Cara

Stuck in the Pain of a Story? Time to Rewrite it.

For several weeks now I have been stuck in the wrong story. There are some major shifts in my work schedule that have been gnawing at me. While I have worked through several aspects of my own anger and sadness, and am feeling more neutral now than I was when this all started, I still find myself resisting – and resentful of – the looming changes.

Negotiation and rationalization with management have not changed their decision; which was first presented to me as if it were an option. This change is going to happen whether I want it to or not. Right now it only affects me (stomps ground in protest). So now it’s up to me to decide how I want to see this situation. Fighting it is just wearing me out and frustrating me further. This is not an effective way to live and work.

After explaining the crux of my issues with this change the man I’m dating suggested that I rewrite the story to be one that is more acceptable to me and that includes how this change includes meeting the needs of the clinic to see more patients. So this is the first draft of my rewrite. Know that a few moments ago, hot tears flowed down my cheeks in protest of all of this; the toughest surrender in weeks. After several minutes of procrastination, breathing through my emotions and a blank page glaring back at me, I began to write the following words:

By moving from a 60/30-minute schedule to a 40-minute schedule, more clients will be able to be seen during my workday. This will shorten the wait list and the number of days or weeks that patients need to wait to be seen under my specialty. Also, it will be easier for patients to schedule for 40-minute sessions, as this will be the only option on my schedule. This will make it easier for the front desk as they will not have to try to find 60-minute sessions anymore. With these changes, I am receiving more support from the front-desk and clinical exercise specialists to enable me to focus more on my work of treating clients & documenting their visits; spending less time on administrative and cleaning tasks. This change will also challenge me to find innovative and more efficient ways to communicate with my clients, as well as to treat their conditions.  There will no longer be a push for me to move clients from 60-minute spots to 30-minute spots and my clinical judgment about the length of my visits will not be in question.

For each sentence I have here, there are 3-4 that I want to write to state my case, but this will only keep me stuck. As I want to get unstuck from my anger, resentment, bitterness and sadness, I need to find a way to look at this differently.  Draft one of my rewrite: complete. I’m sure there will be more drafts to come, as I am in the process of submitting.

Namaste


 

 

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