You know how it is. You’re going along, living your life, feeling just fine, even joyful…
…and then something happens. A situation that had been working, stops working. Your relationship falls apart. Your job is beginning to feel monotonous and less than satisfying. You seem to be missing something.
And you desperately want to not feel that way. And sometimes the feeling is all too familiar, like a creepy guest who periodically barges into your house and sets up camp for an unspecified amount of time.
Whether this visitor is disappointment, lack, frustration, exhaustion, hurt, regret, even an aching heart… how do we ride the wave of these unexpected visits in a healthy, empowering way?
How do we hold our own hands and hearts in times of transition and discomfort? That is the question.
My immediate instinct in these times of intense feeling is to run in the opposite direction. Mostly I find myself thinking about how not to feel this way as quickly as possible. This seems all too natural, since I’ve never heard a single person gush about how much they love feeling hurt, frustrated or upset.
At the same time, I want to explore how to honor those feelings as important teachers and guides along the path of life. As uncomfortable as it is, can I sit with whatever feeling I associate with negativity until it is ready to leave on its own? Can I even learn to welcome the discomfort?
The answer, of course, is yes.
I can sit with these feelings; odds are I’m probably not going to feel comfortable or good in that moment and maybe, just maybe, that is ok.
So, as a gentle reminder to myself and to anyone experiencing difficult emotions, I invite all of us to explore these psychological aches and pains with objectivity and a curious mind.
>> “If I am truly honest with myself, what is this feeling about?”
>> “Where do I feel this in my body?”
>> “How can I take care of myself while I’m feeling this way?”
>> “Do I need to take any action? If so, what is my intent?”
>> “How can I honor myself and the way I’m feeling?”
Too many times we are tempted to criticize and blame ourselves for how we feel. “Why am I feeling this way? This is stupid. I shouldn’t be feeling like this.”
This only squashes our needs and stunts our emotional growth.
So, next time you experience a difficult emotion, remember to breathe and think of a validating mantra—it can be as simple as “It is ok for me to feel this way.” Giving ourselves permission to experience whatever emotion is surfacing can be extremely freeing and gratifying.
You are your most trusted ally and greatest supporter, so remember to treat yourself with the love and kindness that you would bestow upon your dearest friend.
Be gentle, be curious. And remember that feelings come and go—a new visitor is just around the corner.
And because there can never be too much Rumi, I’ll leave you with his wise words, which happen to be so spot-on for this post:
The Guest House
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’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Tria Aronow is a Youth Counselor at a charter high school in Tucson, Arizona. She is also a Certified Life Coach and loves assisting others in the process of illuminating new possibilities! When she is not working, she loves hiking, hula hooping, bicycling, outdoors-ing, sunshine and anything life affirming!
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Assistant Editor: Lacy Rae Ramunno/Ed: Bryonie Wise