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

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

Faith in Receiving

It is very easy for me to give, ’tis much harder to receive. I give of my time, patience, efforts and knowledge to others everyday. Sometimes I get paid for it and sometimes I don’t.

Religious dogma and society support giving more than receiving. “It’s better to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35 (KJV). Welfare recipients are shamed for being “needy.” Yet I wonder if there are deeper reasons…

Receptivity means having faith and surrendering. It also means being vulnerable and “accepting” what we receive. Receiving is also being, which is actively “doing nothing.” (that was triggering to state). Receiving is very much a divine feminine trait; where being feminine is often associated with being weak. Again, where religious dogma and society can play a role in how we perceive things. 

In sitting with my discomfort today around being receptive, I saw several “forces” at play. Being receptive means “getting what I deserve.” There is still part of me that wrestles with that aspect of my personality where I believe there is “an irredeemable deficiency” about myself. With that in mind, to get what I deserve could mean more discomfort for me. This belief also discounts Agape or unconditional love. 

Being receptive also means being vulnerable and feeling unprotected. In service to others, I have repeatedly “put myself out there” and have often felt used, abused, taken for granted and unappreciated. I see where I have done this to myself, to make up for my “irredeemable deficiency” where I feel I must “go above and beyond” to prove my worth… I call this trait “super size me,” where I must “give more,” to make up for my deficiencies. Which again, discounts Agape. 

Yet staying in this place of “keeping a lid” on who I am here to be, I feel as if I’m wearing a shirt several sizes too small. It restricts my movements, my breathing and keeps me from being the person I am here to be. There is great sadness in feeling my own suppression. So I’ve resolved to reach up to the stars and have faith in receiving the greatness that supports who I am here to be; this is vulnerability. 

May we each find new freedom and faith in receiving and in being vulnerable; it takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to power through everything. May we find peace in our own vulnerability, receptivity and femininity. (sounds much like sea anemone, and with that in mind, may we also laugh at ourselves more!) 

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

Too Busy Mopping Up the Floor to Turn Off the Faucet!

How often in life do we focus on treating the symptoms instead of getting to the root problem? Please take a moment here to pause and reflect. We all do it, we’ve done it and many of us are living it; daily.

It seems that each year that passes the expectations increase: work, life, home, social media. I find myself, especially at work, multi-tasking “to the max” (showin’ my age here) and then wondering why I’m tired and then later having difficulty sleeping.

Yet, in my work I help clients find a balance between self-care and care of everyone else. Some are more receptive than others. Some resist even the most basic of changes to help themselves live better.

It took me decades to figure out how important a daily routine of quality self-care for myself was, a routine I’m still tweaking. I cannot imagine where I’d be without it.

Today, where can we begin to take the time to turn off the faucet, so that we’re not just continuously mopping the floor? Where can we create space in our over-scheduled lives to care for our own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs? “Waiting” until the next break, vacation, holiday, day off, etc just kicks the can down the street. Be joy now. Bring it! 

Love anyone or everyone by taking care of your basic needs! The world will thank you!

Namaste

From Perfectionist to Artist: An Enneagram Journey for a 4 wing 3

This is part of a series of delving into The Enneagram System. If you would like to share your journey with understanding your Enneagram, please let me know. Two guest posts have already published and more are planned! 

Some Enneagram resources refer to the Four as “The Creative” while others use “Romantic,” and even “Tragic Romantic.” In reading through the list of famous fours, it is peppered with many very talented artists whose deaths came tragically too early. This makes sense after reading further through the description of the four’s internal landscape, as we are both driven and haunted by a sense of being different than everyone else. In the Road Back to Yourself, Ian Cron, also a four, labels this as an “irredeemable deficiency.” For me, I chose to hide this part of myself behind a perfectionist persona for most of my life. I recognize now that this blog has been one way in which I’ve worked to unmask this persona, allowing the artist within to blossom and bloom. Just acknowledging this in black & white brings a strong emotional response. 

Fours also have very strong emotions that I will add, that many of us experience physically. For example, I once described my sadness as feeling as if the River Styx was flowing through my abdomen. It was that palpable. Recognizing this as part of my personality has actually freed me to see that this is just how I am. Much like accepting that the sun is the sun and the moon is the moon. I am just an emotional being on the inside, yet I am not my emotions (that’s another post!).

A hallmark sign of 4s is that we feel unique in some way; something which can both propel us forward as well as separate us from others. Fours rarely feel they fit in with others, while we may be able to play various roles, deep down we feel misunderstood because we feel we have an “irredeemable deficiency,” a deep unidentifiable shame that we often hide. This often makes us feel separate. Through understanding the Enneagram, I now understand that this unique feeling is part of being a four. This was incredibly freeing for me.

Deadly Sin
Initially, this is a shocking title. Yet, the word sin has been misused and abused. The original definition of Sin is the action of turning away from God. The deadly sin in the Enneagram refers to the “wound” that blocks our full realization of and connection to God and others. 

Envy is the four’s deadly sin. This is something I experience often, as I find myself comparing the work and lives of others to my own. “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “Look at that happy couple, I want that in my life.” One Life Coach implored me to avoid comparing my inner life to the “News Reel” of the lives of others.

This envy then keeps me from enjoying my life. In feeling upset or slighted, I can focus on the “lack of” more than the presence of anything. This has also lead me to downplay where I “do have” in my life, as I fear the envy of others. It is almost easier for me to show my sad side than my joyous side for this reason as I already feel “an outsider,” and knowing how envy blocks me, I have feared bringing forth that envy from others.

It is a challenge for me to receive compliments, love and acceptance. I see “the wounds” and where things are lacking. It’s been hard for me to believe that someone would love me, unless I were perfect in every way as I have found it hard to receive acceptance for I had felt that sense of irredeemable deficiency; the shame that bound me to my suffering.

Strategies to Move Into Greater Health
Becoming my own best friend has been incredibly freeing. In the past, I would cut myself down and then seek solace from others (or food); something they could not provide as I was the one doing the cutting. It is also ultimately our own love which sets us free!

Self-compassion is an important part of this journey. Meditation and self-reflection have helped me to gain a different perspective, giving myself more grace. The Ho’Oponopono Prayer (I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.) has also helped me in gaining more ground, as well, becoming more comfortable in my own skin. These acts of self-care help to quiet the inner critic and decrease the effects of the “deficiency.”

Gratitude and focusing on what I do have helped to quell the envy. When I feel the envy twitch its head, I acknowledge it and then begin to focus on all of the positive things in my life.

The Enneagram & Freedom
The Enneagram system has gifted me with a new level of grace and freedom for myself and has helped me to take things less personally with understanding the “deadly sins” with others. If you are unfamiliar with the system and your number, I strongly encourage you to “check it out.” The system shows us that we each have the traits of the other numbers, however, we have one prevailing type, so you will probably relate to each one in some way. Yet one will stand above the fray. For me, it was reading about the “irredeemable deficiency” that resonated the most.

May we each find more freedom in accepting ourselves as we are, allowing us to move into greater level of potential. For it is in accepting where we are now that allows us to move forward. 

Namaste

Fasting During Workouts for Improved Performance

This is another seemingly unbelievable benefit to intermittent fasting: improved physical performance with exercise while fasting. Last week, I ran 2 full miles while 12+ hours into a fast. I outperformed my last fasted run by double and with a faster pace. In the prior month, I had been running after breaking the fast and I was unable to run more than 1/4 mile without walking.

What I’m noticing with working out while fasting: I have more energy, strength, endurance, with less muscle soreness and fatigue afterwards! I can perform more reps with less fatigue and when I run up a flight of steps, I now feel like I’m just getting warmed up instead of feeling myself slowing down near the top.

Another unexpected side effect: I look forward to working out! In fact, going too many days between work outs makes me want to work out more! 

Apparently there are several physiological factors that support improved endurance and strength when exercising while fasting. One of which is the production of more human growth hormone, which supports my experience of improved physical performance while fasting.  I can see the benefits of fasting now compared to non-fasted training. I’ve more than quadrupled my running distance in one week with just 2 sessions. (Currently, my running has been limited by my time availability and not by my endurance: cardiovascular nor muscular.)

Again, even though I’ve read the research, I would not have believed these results had I not lived them myself. I would encourage you to check with your physician prior to attempting this.

May we each find pathways to greater health today and the coming year. Go forth and be healthy!

Namaste
P.S. After writing this post, I did a non-fasted run at the same pace as my last 2-mile fasted run. Had to start walking after 0.8 miles and “walked it off” for another 1/2 mile. Decided on this day that I’d be sure to do most running while fasting vs not! There was such a difference both in how I felt and performed …

Recovering from Heartbreak: Taking it to the Next Level

Healing from heartbreak can be a drawn out and difficult process. It can seem to take forever because we don’t like feeling hurt or that we are broken. Often we suppress our feelings and try to rush the process in our desire to feel “A-OKAY” which can further prolong the process.

Idealizing the person and the relationship keeps us stuck and from moving forward. These thoughts become an addiction. It is up to us to choose when we no longer wish to ruminate, when we would like to move forward. Just as with changing any habit, to be successful, we must replace our old habits with new ones. Initially, this takes effort and near constant redirection. Here are some of the tools I have found helpful in breaking the habit of idealization:

  • Burn Letters – This can be very transformative. Pour out your emotions onto paper. Say whatever is on your mind, or that needs to be gotten off of your chest. Then place the paper into the fireplace, or fire pit and let your feelings be transformed. The stronger the feelings, the more times this may need to be done. For some, it may be one and done. For most, it may require repeated efforts.
  • Sh*t List – List out the things you did not like or that went wrong. Yes, focus for a little bit on the negative. When we are idealizing someone or something, then we are avoiding the negatives.
  • Gratitude – Each time you think on the ex lover or relationship, mentally thank your ex for showing you what you want in your next relationship. In relationship, we experience examples of what we liked while learning through contrast what we do NOT want again.
  • Wish List – List out all the things that you want in your NEXT RELATIONSHIP. Feel into as many items as you can as you list them out.
    • Additional suggestions:
      • Make an A to Z list. Challenge yourself to find at least one thing for each letter.
      • Read and feel this list everyday.
      • Record the list in your own voice. Listen to it daily.
      • When you start to think about the ex-lover or that relationship, look at the list.
      • Share the list with a trusted friend who will NOT ridicule you.
      • Allow this list to live in your heart.
  • Radical Self-Care – What have you not been doing for yourself? Were there good self-care habits that fell to the wayside when you were in relationship/grieving?
    • Some ideas:
      • Love & forgive yourself more. The Ho’Oponopono Prayer* is amazing: “I Love You. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”
      • Change your schedule.
      • Tidy your home, office or car.
      • Drive to work differently.
      • Exercise your body. This helps to get the emotions moving, too.
      • Fast (safely).
      • Eat foods that are right for your body.
      • Meditate.
      • Take a salt bath.
      • Go to the spa, get a massage, or have some energy healing done.
      • (Re)Connect with friends.
      • Journal.
      • Seek counseling or hypnotherapy.
      • See an Acupuncturist.
      • EFT

UnHome for the Holidays: Breathing through the Holiday Blues

When I was younger, several family friends found the holidays depressing. This perplexed me, I wondered how people weren’t joyous during the holidays. Now I understand. This year marks the 4th Winter Holiday Season since separation, and eventual divorce. Having two young children who are now “forced” to split their holidays between parents, this time of year brings to the forefront the loss of the “Norman Rockwell” image of family that I have held since a young age (sometimes with a white-knuckled grip) in my mind.  So while I can still find joy in the holidays, there is an ever present longing that I am keenly aware may never be filled…and part of me blames myself.

Breathing in, I feel the grievances of childhood ideals. Just for this moment, I choose to not question them, for to do so would be to question my right to feel the losses; losses which are palpable for me at the moment. 

Breathing out, I feel my grasp on the ideals slowly slip away.

Breathing in, I allow this cycle to repeat: allowing the feelings and the ideals to be, then allowing my grip on them to release.

So now I feel better about Christmas, at least. Now to move onto New Year’s Eve, another year in which to celebrate being single, while grieving the vacancy at my side. 🙂

May we each find a greater sense of peace about where we find ourselves in life during this more sensitive time of year. May we further allow our grievances to surface, so that we may acknowledge and honor them, then allow our grips on them to soften, freeing us to enjoy greater degrees of freedom from our suffering. Peace begins within.

Namaste

Know that you are not alone in this. If your emotions are overwhelming and/or preventing you from activities that you normally enjoy, please reach out to someone who can help: 

  • National Suicide Hotline (US) 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat available 24/7
  • Mental Health Referral Hotline (US) 1-877-726-4727 available 8 AM – 8 PM EST Monday-Friday

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