Come As You Are
Recently a few people have reached out to me to make note of my "positivity." Some of them saying it helps and inspires them and some of them saying that they can't understand how I am so positive all the time. I am very grateful to hear each of these sentiments because they are vulnerable. (And have inspired this blog post).
I want to say that the answer to, "How are you so positive all the time?" is this - I'm not. I am not so positive all the time. I'm not even regular positive all the time. In fact, it takes a lot of effort and consciousness to brew up all that positivity. And usually what I am putting out there to the world, is what I am aching to heal from. In the aftermath of my own suffering comes positivity. And sometimes it takes a longgggg time to get to that point. And most times, in order to get to that point, I have to make that conscious effort to help myself.
So what helps me? A number of things. There are also things disguised as helping that actually hurt. A few things that actually hurt but feel like they're helping in the moment are: drinking wine (one of my favorites), overeating (I find comfort in the moment but usually feel pretty terrible after), laying on the couch binge watching Netflix, mindlessly scrolling through social media, obsessing about all the things I should be doing that I'm currently not doing, SHOPPING (retail therapy is definitely a favorite drug). I could go on... See, all of these things in moderation or as a special occasion are pretty harmless. But when used as a way to cope with suffering, and to avoid feeling those uncomfortable feels, it's not a healthy way to make it through the storm.
What works? Glad you asked! (These are so important that they each get their own paragraph).
THERAPY. I go to therapy. Regularly. I see my therapist every single week (except when she's on vacation and then I turn into a Tasmanian Devil). I talk. I talk a lot. I get it all out of my body. I get it out of my body (to create ease) so my emotions and mental state don't manifest themselves in my physical body (as dis-ease). The more I talk it out, the less I will act out. The more I talk, the more my therapist helps me understand why I feel the way I feel and why I do the things I do. The more awareness I have, the more likely I am to change my behavior in the future - the healthy stuff and the neurotic stuff.
I feel insanely blessed to have found a therapist that I vibe with so well. I have been seeing her on the regular for 11 years. That's 11 solid years of mental health work. And I won't stop now. It's really important to find a therapist that you jive with. Not everyone will be your cup of tea so try not to be deterred from therapy just because you didn't have a good experience with someone. Keep going until you find that person.
YOGA. I had a friend tell me last night that she doesn't really "get yoga." She said she often finds herself looking around the room and can't focus. But what she didn't know is that she's doing yoga right there. The fact that she made it to her mat. The fact that she took time out just for herself. The fact that she's breathing. THAT is yoga. You don't have to be the Dalai Lama, or a gymnast, or a gymnast Dalai Lama, to do yoga. You just have to know how to breathe. And that's the honest to goodness truth.
I never used to have a regular yoga practice. I used to be one of those people who rolled their eyes at yoga and thought, "yeah, sounds great. Yawwnnn. Who wants to get a drink?" But now, I practice. My mat feels like medicine and it brings me home no matter where I go with it. To be honest with you, I don't always WANT to do yoga. There are so many times I see my mat laying there in my living room and I walk by it time and time again. There are times I THINK about doing yoga but don't actually make it to my mat. I would love to do a physical practice every damn day, but right now, I am grateful that I do it 3-4 times a week. And some weeks less than that. And some weeks more than that. But I always come back to it.
Also, yoga isn't just what you do on your mat. What you do on your mat is a great reflection of how you're being in the world. But how you're being in the world is the true yoga. I could go on and on but this was only supposed to be one paragraph.
BREATHE. I breathe. I pause and take time to consciously take deep breaths. Only focusing on the inhale, the pause, and the exhale. Sometimes for a minute. Sometimes for many minutes. And then I begin again. You can always, always begin again. Breathing in this way helps to relieve stress and anxiety. It brings about a sense of calm. This is considered a form of meditation. Which brings me to my next helper...
MEDITATION. There are soooo many different ways to meditate: in silence, through a guided meditation, focusing on your breath, using a timer, listening to music, chanting, using an app, etc.. My personal favorite is using the Insight Timer app on my phone. It's filled with thousands of free meditations. Sometimes I listen to soothing music, sometimes it's a yoga nidra (body scan) meditation, sometimes it's guided. There are so many different topics I can't begin to cover them all but there's something for everything you are feeling. Sarah Blondin is one of my all time favorites. Her meditations come from her own personal journal entries, her own struggles. Her voice is comforting and her messages always make me cry. And now I'm sensing a theme here...
CRYING. I am still working on this one because I struggle with feelings of shame when I cry. On top of society telling us it's not ok to cry (big girls don't cry, be a man and suck it up), I learned that at home too. When I was younger it wasn't ok for me to cry. I had to be strong. A strong little adult child. And when I would cry it was considered dramatic. So I did not feel safe crying in my younger years. So I work on this. Crying is very cathartic and soul-cleansing. It is more than ok to cry.
JOURNALING. This is also another one that I have to consciously work on. I can stare at my journal. I can deliberate over what I would put in my journal and then not do it. I'm really good at that. And sometimes I put pen to paper. And the words just flow out of me. And the feels land on the pages. And I feel a lot better. I have to remind myself of that feeling so I can continue to use this as a method to get through tough times.
Those are the biggies. There are also other things I do to help myself - sometimes it's just a warm bath, sometimes it's a consciously cooked meal I made at home, sometimes I just sit near my diffuser with my favorite essential oil wafting into the air, sometimes I read a book. All of these things far more productive and a lot less destructive than those aforementioned in disguise.
Even if you find yourself giving into one of your disguise feel good tactics, it's ok. We are human. Being imperfect is part of the human experience. Give yourself a hug and let it go.
Imperfect me sees and honors imperfect you.
Light & love. XOXO