I’m going through a really painful experience right now.
I have been slowly learning through coaching that the fastest way through the pain is to lean in and really feel it.
This is not how I have lived most of my life.
Most of my life, I dedicated a lot of energy to not feeling pain. I would read or watch movies or call friends or especially, eat. Anything to avoid the terrible feeling that I thought might actually kill me.
But you know, the pain just oozed into other areas of my life instead.
So I decided to just take this past three-day weekend to just lean in and feel the pain.
The best way I know how to do this is -- through a lot of study -- is to just feel it in the body. To put your hands on your chest and breathe deeply and say, “I am sad, this is sadness, it makes so much sense that I am feeling this.”
It’s important to not get bogged down in the story but to try to just feel the negative emotion in the body. To become "the watcher." To truly focus on the visible sensation of the emotion.
For me, my sadness feels heavy and dark like rain clouds. My shoulders are weighed down so heavily, as if I’m carrying a yoke with heavy buckets hanging down. If feels like trudging through deep mud. It's so exhausting.
I can't make it hurry up but I can just allow it and even welcome it. Trying to rush it doesn't work because pain is savvy and knows when I have an agenda to feel better, and it resists.
So now I just say, “okay, it looks like this is the time I am supposed to feel like sh*t.”
Of course, I can’t do this all day long, every day. But a quiet holiday weekend is a good time to do this. I am actually pretty proud of myself for making time for it. This is not my busy New Yorker way of living, but Mexico is slowly seeping into me.
So I let myself feel HORRIBLE on Friday.
I lay in bed most of the day and just leaned into the sadness. It felt terrible.
I let the kids have some extra screen time, which didn’t feel great, either, but necessary. I forgave myself in advance for that.
I practiced the thought “this is the time when I’m going to feel bad.”
I reminded myself that I’m okay. I’m safe. This feeling won’t hurt me.
And only super recently have I learned: this feeling won’t last forever.
It sounds so stupidly obvious but it wasn’t for me: every time I felt bad, I was sure it would last forever. That was why it was so terrifying to feel bad! What if I never felt it again? Surely allowing pain would allow it to take over forever?
The funny thing was, after just one day of feeling s*itty, I actually felt a lot better! It was crazy. Without even trying.
The next two days were actually reasonably happy.
But now, two more days later, I am feeling sh*tty again.
Here we go, ‘round the Mulberry bush.
So I’m not trying to make myself feel better.
I am forcing myself to work, because I feel better when I work. I also got up early and worked out, because that also makes me feel better -- endorphins are magical. And I tried to be extra kind and patient with my children even when I was anxious, because likewise, it makes me feel better about myself.
But I am reminding myself that this is temporary. By allowing and even allowing the sadness, it will pass through me as quickly as it can. I can’t rush it, but at least I am not slowing it down.
If you’d like help learning how to experience your sh*tty emotions so you can move through them and be released to happier emotions again, set up a complimentary life coaching call and experience the transformation.
I promise it's a lot easier than it sounds!
And if you are dreading sleep training because of how sh*tty you fear your child and you will feel, schedule a free consultation for that, too. The process of feeling sh*tty is exactly the same, I promise.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.