Stress is a part of everyday life
People WILL disappoint you.
Life is messy.
There are a million ways to experience emotional pain, and a billion ways to avoid it.
Yesterday, I told you about an emotional crisis I had earlier this year, a crazy ride packed with ugly crying and panic attacks that made me feel like I was underwater wearing a lead swimsuit.
Every day for 2 weeks, it felt like I was gasping for air and grasping for a way to escape.
I'm a very visual person, so I like to imagine my emotional pain as a little ball inside me. When I deny, numb, or distract myself from it, that little ball just sits there. With every unhealed, unprocessed event, it gets bigger, moves around, and blocks the door for all of life's goodness to enter through.
The demise of my brief relationship caused the rupture of my little emotional pain ball in a way that I hadn't anticipated. I'd been suppressing this pain for 20 years and it was ready to come out...whether I liked it or not. It was time for me to make room for the love, connection, and joy I truly wanted.
I knew that wine, food, excess TV, or any of the usual distractions wouldn't be the answer to my problems. They would only smother the pain temporarily, but prolong it indefinitely.
It was time to do something different.
1. I asked for help: Initially, I hesitated to ask for help because I was in denial. I thought this was a minor thing that I could handle on my own. I thought that I would be a burden and none of my friends wanted to hear about my trivial "man drama". Turns out, I was wrong about everything. I'm grateful that I had a crew of amazing women who listened to me weep endlessly over the phone without judgment and whose comforting words helped to pick me up off the floor.
2. I wrote it out: Putting my mind on paper is like therapy for me. It was a productive, creative way to process the pain.
3. I spent time WITH myself: I literally sat quietly with the feelings that came up and observed them in a non-judgey type of way. I noticed the physical sensations in my body...the racing heart, shallow breaths, and fluttering in my belly. The longer I sat with the feelings the more normal I started to feel. Going into my body took me out of mind which was a chaotic, confusing place to be.
4. I moved: On the days when I had enough energy, I did workouts and that made me feel strong and ALIVE. Exercising in a way that I love was like an awakening.
5. I beat my mattress with a pillow. People say "When you're feeling angry, think of something you're really grateful for!". HA! Well, gratitude is great, but sometimes you just want to beat the shit of out something...and that's what I did. While this may seem like I let violence overcome me, it was better than turning my anger inward or projecting it on to the people around me. And my mattress didn't seem to mind.
**BONUS** I gave myself a damn break. I focused ONLY on the essentials: food, clients, and personal hygiene. Anything else was considered excessive, and was removed from my plate. Can you say "self-compassion"? Yes, it works every time.
This new way of dealing and feeling was downright scary, but I came out on the other side, stronger and smarter.
IMPORTANT: You're NOT bad or wrong if you've made a habit of using wine or some other numbing agent to avoid bad feelings. It's what humans have been doing forever. However, it's not a productive way to cope because it robs you of living a fully present life and you never deal with the actual problem.
The good news is that you have the power to shake this habit and make a change.
I hope the next time there's a shit storm brewing in your life, you'll try one of these strategies as an alternative to tossing back a few glasses of pinot noir. You'll be ok...I promise.
What do you do when intense feelings come up? How do you handle it when the world seems to be crashing in on you? Tell me in the comments below.