pain is good, yeah?

The last week has been emotionally challenging. As a matter of fact, it brought me to my knees. I’ve been hurting. Deeply. And this is a GOOD THING!

You see, I’m intellectual and a bit of an introvert. Which means, if left to my own devices, I’d spend way too much time inside my own head. I’ve had to consciously apply myself to the practice of presence, living in the moment, and actually living in body and experiencing my feelings. I’ve gotten much better at these things, particularly since having children, practicing yoga and meditating.

Three things happened this past week that hit me emotionally probably more than they “should” have. (I try to avoid “should-ing” on myself.) While I’m not going to address them all here and now, my response tells me that these occurrences were triggers that brought up some old pain that needs to be dealt with. I’ve really been feeling it. And physically. I’m low on energy, yawning a lot, there’s growling in my abdomen and I can feel a tenderness in my chest cavity accompanied by a very literal “knife in the back” sensation. And so I’m trying to deal, trying to process, trying to explore and heal an emotional landscape that no longer serves me and that might well be holding me back from attracting what I want into my life.

When I’m feeling this way — vulnerable, insecure and hurting — I see three possibilities:

  1. I could be unconscious and reactive about it, failing to self-reflect, and go on about my life without taking the time to feel, experience or heal.
  2. I could witness the thoughts I’m having and stop myself every time I notice a negative thought around these feelings in order to re-wire my brain. (Nerve cells that no longer fire together no longer wire together and, if I change my thought patterns, I will ultimately affect my feelings and moods.)
  3. Or I could feel — allow myself to feel deeply, truly experience and process these emotions and release them.

As you might have guessed, I’ll work within the latter two approaches. I’m trying to use my mental strengths to be a better friend and coach to myself. Like most of us, my internal critic is far more harsh than any words I would ever say to a friend, and I’ve long made a practice of lightening up and being kinder and gentler to myself.

I’ll address the feelings and physical symptoms by supporting myself and my best health (so much of which is chemical) through healthy eating, breath work, meditation, physical activity and practicing gratitude.

It almost seems contradictory to prevent myself from thinking certain thoughts while simultaneously allowing my feelings. But the old emotional attachments need to be felt and experienced in the body to be released, and that’s where I’ll break the chain. I won’t allow the feelings to feed the thoughts, and I’ll ensure the thoughts that feed the emotions are nurturing. I’m going to be the change and break the old emotional patterns for once and for all. Ah, growing pains!