Entries in letting go (12)


Getting Better at Feeling.

I have been angry and resentful for years.

I have called those feelings all sorts of other names in that time in order to hide their origins or make them prettier, more acceptable. Yet, regardless of the labels I have used and the ways I have justified my emotions, the feelings are 'angry' and 'resentful'.  

The shock I wrote about recently has helped me towards this place of learning. Owning my feels - including my immense shame - will hopefully help me towards letting go.

That makes letting go sound like a goal. 

In a way it is - because the holding on is now too painful and is no longer a place I want to be. Seeking to let go, be it a place, a relationship, a feeling, a thought, a behaviour; is really about moving from one "place" to another. In doing so, a movement or shift occurs, and change happens.

In another way, owning my feelings is the goal and letting go is an attractive by-product of it. Owning and naming my feelings has many interesting and life-changing benefits. My objective has become getting better at feeling rather than simply hoping to feel better

It's not easy at first: I feel like a baby again. I get tied up in language, and using too many words. I notice myself reach for the comfort of explanation ... "I feel this and this is why and how it came about and and and". The story I tell about the origins of the feeling takes me away from feeling the feeling. I get carried away, literally, by telling minute details of the story. The story becomes a place to blame, to hide, to escape and to avoid. The story helps me stay away from taking responsibility for and owning my part.

Likewise, I watch my well-trained and practiced impulse to judge those feeling when they come: "I feel sad ... and sad is not good, sad is bad and I need to change to feeling something else because sad isn't a good thing" goes my head. I even go so far as to take up the cry of "sad? you have nothing to be sad about! you have a home and family and food to eat ..." - all unhelpful judgements and shaming myself for feeling what I feel. 

Stepping back from the judgement, resisting the temptation to get caught up in the story: these things are helping me learn to get better at feeling, to sit in the discomfort of the resentment, anger, jealousy AND to feel the joy, the happy, the warm, the connected, the soft. 

Getting better at feeling ALL the feelings is, by default rather than by design, helping me feel better. 

What are you avoiding feeling in the hope of feeling better?


Sitting in the discomfort.

It's been 4 months since we started our life in this new environment with a different language and culture, different schools for the children, different friends, different groceries in the supermarket, different climate... I was starting to feel settled. I was proud of what I had achieved in that time and amazed at how well things had been going. 

Just over a week ago I got a phonecall that has really shaken the "settle".

I am amazed again ... this time at how instability feels - how uncomfortable, how terror-filled, how nightmare inducing (literally!) and above all, how shocked I am at how temporary things are - even though I "know" in my head that it's always been this way and always will.

The hardest part is not slamming the door shut on hope. At different times I want to give in to my Mind that is taunting me with "see I told you this was too good to be true" and "I knew it - nothing THIS good could be real or last".  

I've been through all the emotions I can imagine. It hurts and it's hard. The work comes not from running away from the feelings, but in resisting the temptation to do so. I know this is life. And! (not but) the discomfort is excruciating some days.

So the work I am doing is to sit in it ... to just sit there in the discomfort, the pain, the fear, the anxiety and the not-knowing how it will all turn out. 

In doing so, I notice feelings of shame: shame at having let myself go, of having fallen so deeply in love, and having believed that I could have this wonderful experience. Shame that I had dropped my defenses enough to truly feel, to be vulnerable, to live whole-heartedly. 

I notice that naming my shame, my feelings and my fear has helped me stay in the experience rather than running away. Realising what I feel ashamed about has also reminded me of how I want to spend the time I have in this life: to live whole-heartedly no matter how excruciating the pain, true to my experience.

That realisation is where I feel myself lift - up out of the pain, the fear and the confusion - into a place of acceptance: acceptance that whatever is coming is going to be OK; of trust that I can cope with it, whatever it is. 

Beyond acceptance, I am grateful for the experience and it's lessons in vulnerability. I am thankful that I am still learning, noticing that I continue to find the courage to practice the things I say I want to have in my life: courage, whole-heartedness, sitting in the discomfort - walking the talk!

Of course I don't feel the lift all the time - I am still learning the "how" on this one :-) - but I am able to step back from the experience every now and then, to notice the dance of Self and Mind, to appreciate the difference between these two and to sit in the discomfort of learning and evolving towards a place I want to be

Where do you want to be evolving to, and what discomfort are you willing to experience to get there?



A call to action.

By focusing on what did and what might have happened in your childhood or in your past you are giving it power - the power to stop you in your tracks, to hold onto the old, to forget about living now, creating now, parenting now, loving now.

You want so much to live NOW ... not back then, not in the corner cowering below upraised hands, ashamed, frightened, helpless.

It's time to choose a different approach ... to choose what you focus your attention on. 

Your life is what you are creating. In order to create what you want you need to be here NOW. To be here NOW you need to stop looking back over your shoulder at what has gone before, at what the past tells you happened.

Release the past, stand in the present, create your future as you want it to be. 

Do it with self-care and love. Do it with determination and a willingness to do things you find tough - simply because they are the stepping stones to a new way of living. 

Don't want another minute. Don't wait another minute. 



It's spring ... somewhere.

After more than 7 years in the northern hemisphere, I appear to have suddenly reverted to living my home (southern) hemisphere’s seasonal pattern. The planet’s south has passed the magical date of 1 September and launched itself into spring. That means the north is on it’s way into autumn – not exactly the traditional time to begin the behavior of ‘spring cleaning’.  It appears to be part of an elaborate plan of resistance to taking back my “old” life in an effort to have more of what I truly want and less of what I have settled for. 

I am clearing, cleaning, culling, washing, airing, tidying, and making space between the stuff. I am recycling all manner of work-related paper that I was sure I would ‘do something’ with one day. I am vetting carefully the social engagements I accept.

I am choosing nothing over 'something' ... instead of settling for less-than. 

I have to admit that, aside from a few attempts in the area of spring cleaning (even on-season), I haven’t done this properly in years. I put it down to a recently restorative two week holiday where I didn’t cook, clean, grocery shop, do laundry, organise a babysitter, follow a routine attend social events or work.  The holiday created space for awareness and reflection – for detaching from my life.  

Post-holiday, I feel a strong resistance to falling back into the old way simply because it was “the old way”. An automatic response that pre-holiday was simply there – perhaps even something I would have labelled ‘natural’- is no longer the leading force in my actions. 

Instead, there is a delay … a moment when I find myself thinking “umm is this what I want? Is there a better way/different response/alternative thinking I could be using? Do I need this in my life? Is it bringing me closer to Self and the ones I love? Am I living my values” 

Of course it’s not a sweeping change. It will come as no surprise to you that there are times when I just do it the old way because it doesn’t feel like there is time to suddenly create a new one. Other times I choose to do nothing instead of just doing the same ole, same ole.

There is a very strong sense of coming up for air – from daily life, from habit, from a kind of sludgy place where I always felt I was struggling to keep my head above water. 

For years, when asked what I want I would respond “a simpler life”. Now I feel like I am creating it. 

Why did it take me so long?

I suspect it comes down to letting go – to just simply having the chance to STOP and step back. Doing nothing of the normal allows us to reflect on the ways we normally spend our time and energy.

It's spring somewhere ... 




Is your motivation is intrinsic?

Setting goals and having dreams is something we are all encouraged to do. Having courage, living our values, doing the work, growing and evolving - we are also encourage to do these. The key to lasting the distance and making sure you move along the journey you want to be on is intrinsic motivation. 

My experience since writing this post has been interesting. Eight years of thinking about it, talking about it sometimes but vaguely, writing about it privately … and then wham – there I am sharing it with the world. After pressing the initial ‘send’ I decided to take it a step further and email the link to my family – knowing that they don’t regularly read my blog meant knowing that this experience was not going to be known by them unless they stumbled upon it.

Then I published the link on FaceBook. Now all the people I have known across the years from school through to now were sharing this piece of my life. Freaky stuff!!

The traffic on my site peaked quickly. I watched it do so, and watched myself racing around my mind grasping for a hiding place … followed quickly by a reminder to myself that this is what I had created and I needed to suck it up, stand in the discomfort and breathe (which I did).

When you put yourself out there (like I did) you have to be quite clear about your motivation for doing so (which I was). There needs to be somehow an understanding of the process that is involved – I don’t mean “how” you are doing it, but more like “why” you are doing it and what it means for your own individual evolution. Yes, large parts of it relate to sharing with others so they know they are not alone - but altruistic notions may not be enough to get you through the cold, lonely, vulnerable, terrifying, incredibly painful and difficult experience of having it ‘out there’

Intrinsic motivation is the key. Do it for your Self. Tie it to a value: self evolution; self witness; self-awareness; letting go … tie it to anything that is for you - and you alone.  That is what intrinsic motivation is. 

Those moments where you want to run and hide will be tough – but if you know that you are doing it in service of a value you hold, you can sit in the vulnerability and know that you are living a whole-hearted, full life.