My natural state is one of joy. I’m that kind of a girl.
The cup-half-full-of-rainbows-and-puppies, driving-everyone-to-the-brink-of-insanity-with-my-hopeful-optimism kind of girl. I know that about myself, and I’m okay with it.
I haven’t always been this girl—it’s taken many years for me to understand myself in such a way that I could become this happy. I had years of junk to unlearn, conditioning to shed, beliefs that no longer served me. Learning to let go of things that didn’t fit with the woman I am inside created space for me to grow.
On the edge of every change I’ve ever made—just before a new period of personal growth begins—I’m not my normal, sunshiny self.
I get frustrated. I feel moody and tired. Dissatisfied. Withdrawn.
I hate feeling that way. We’re taught from a young age not to feel that way, or at least not to express those feelings. We’re not supposed to complain, or have negative thoughts, or express emotions that make others uncomfortable. We’re taught that these things are “bad’—and because they are “bad” we ignore, suppress, and explain away these important emotions.
This makes for some damn unhappy people in the world. Unable to express ourselves. Unable to feel without fear, judgement, criticism. Unaware that the frustration we are feeling will lead us to something better if we just grab on and follow it.
I now understand that these “negative” emotions are a gift. They are little messengers that let me know where my life is out of balance. In psychology, this is called cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we feel when we have thoughts or beliefs that contradict each other, or when our actions do not align with our beliefs, or when a new idea is introduced to us that is in conflict with our belief system. It feels like resistance, hesitation, repulsion, frustration, avoidance.
Looking back on my life, I can see that the times I was most frustrated and unhappy were the times in which I was not listening to my intuition. I was pushing away the uncomfortable emotions I thought I wasn’t allowed to feel, or didn’t feel strong enough to face. I was stuck; unable to change and grow, because I was cutting myself off from the messages my body was giving me.
Those emotions were expressing to me the resistance I felt with the flow of my life. They were trying to tell me I was going in the wrong direction. I could choose to keep swimming against the current—pushing and fighting to make something work that never would—or I could choose to let go and make space for something new and better.
I happen to be right in the middle of such a situation now.
I am a writer in my heart. It’s what I love to do, and what I would like to do with my life. However, I still have a day job in corporate healthcare. It’s a great job, I’m grateful for it, and let’s be honest—I still need it. I like the people I work with, it’s close to home, my boss is awesome. There are so many great things there. I know a lot of people who would love to have that job. But, it’s not who I am in my heart. It’s not an industry that I want to give my life to. And, when it takes up time and energy that I need to invest in my writing career, I get super frustrated.
For a while, I was ignoring that frustration. Explaining it away as a normal part of my life. The more I tried to ignore it or push it away, the more it grew. Frustration is now turning into dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety. I feel it in my physical body. I think about it more than I want to. It steals my joy, drains me energetically.
Acknowledging these feelings has helped me to see that the time has come to start exploring my next step as a writer. My healthcare career supports me financially, which is important. But, it comes with an emotional and spiritual price I can’t pay forever. To keep evolving and growing as a person, as a soul, I have to align my actions with my beliefs. I have to walk my talk. I have to make my profession fit with the woman I am at my center, and use the gifts I’ve been given.
Experiencing uncomfortable emotions is not “bad.” It’s a normal, healthy part of our human experience. Embracing the ugly stuff, instead of ignoring and avoiding it, helps us learn and grow. It pushes us to make new choices, to take chances, to try new things.
When we learn to honor our emotions, to witness, acknowledge, and listen to them without judgement, we begin to trust them to guide us.
They are messengers, and powerful indicators of how we’re doing, and where we can make changes to bring more joy and peace to our lives.
I know that the life I was born to live, my destiny, my dharma, is at the end of the path these emotions are leading me to. All I have to do is listen, and follow them to the next step, trusting that the path will be illuminated for me, and I will be supported on my journey.
Feeling the contrast between this frustration and my normal joyous state motivates me to keep going, keep searching, keep writing, and keep reaching toward things that fit with who I am at my center.
The most authentic expression of my soul is right on the other side of this transition—and I am ready to embrace it.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Image: paullita100 / Pixabay
Editors: Sara Kärpänen; Emily Bartran