Feelings. Oh, feelings... It's that time of year again when most of us seem to feel a lot of them.
Since receiving a clean bill of health back in October, I have been experiencing a whirlwind of feelings and emotions. At times, I've felt nothing but pure bliss and elation. At other times, feelings of sadness, confusion and despair have consumed me. I've processed and am still processing a lot of stuff!
Through the experience of being diagnosed with and overcoming cancer, I was gifted the opportunity to become aware of some self sabotaging patterns and behaviours that I had previously been engaging in. Endurism (apparently this is not a real word??), excessive productivity, and avoiding my feelings by various means to name a few... The issue is, that these patterns of behaviour are all I have known for years... "Uncomfortable feelings to deal with? No problem, I'll just make and can 14 batches of applesauce instead!"
I can't deny that I sometimes mourn my old ways on the days that hard emotions arise. However, now, with this new awareness, I also cannot return to acting on these old patterns and behaviours without feeling a sense of guilt and the fear of becoming ill again. As Oprah says, "When you know better, you do better" and therefore, if I act in a way that I know better than, it's pretty impossible for me not to feel badly.
So, moving forward in life, I have been dedicated to learning new behaviours and healthy ways to deal. This has been a SUPER beneficial endeavour but making these changes has not necessarily been easy. It's a process of re-learning how to live in many regards. "Uncomfortable feelings to deal with? Awesome, let's sit down and feel them out and then talk with a friend."
As I first began to incorporate these new behaviours, I started to experience all sorts of weird and uncomfortable feelings. These feelings were not necessarily bad feelings... but... I just sort of felt like I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean and every time I'd ask the Captain where we were headed he would just wink and smile and return to puffing on his pipe (I don't know why my Captian looks like Popeye, he just does).
For someone who's mind has been trained from years of repetitive behaviour to NEED to know the probable future outcome of every moment of life to feel a sense of control, this lead to feelings of uncertainty. Learning to go with the flow is one of the new behaviours I am practicing; meditation is helping.
Anyway, in addition to experiencing all of those weird and uncomfortable feelings I also began to experience sensations of fear with regards to feeling those feelings. "Why do I feel like this?" "Is there something wrong with me?" "Am I ok?"
Then one day, I had this epiphany...
I was thinking about a friend of mine who was been dealing with a lot of difficult life scenarios. One thing I noticed about this friend was that they were becoming fearful about the way that they were feeling. As an outsider looking in, it was obvious to me that anyone going through that set of life circumstances would feel the way that they did. I could also see that the fear they had with regards to the normal feelings they were experiencing was only adding to their distress.
During my epiphany, I realized: OMG...this is me! This is the exact same thing that I am doing! "Why do I feel this way? Umm, because it's freakin' normal Jess!" The external world really is a great reflection of the internal one... (and yes, when I talk to myself I also answer myself).
The beauty of the situation is that once I recognized this trait within myself, I knew I had the power to change it. Whoot, whoot!! I love figuring out these kinds of things... it gives me a starting point for improvement, a direction to go towards better. Could I change the natural feelings I was experiencing as part of moving forward after cancer? No. But, I could eliminate the fear around the way I was feeling by recognizing those feelings as normal.
So, I sat down and did what I do best during times of growth... I got out my sticky note pad and made myself a reminder note, or perhaps better put, an affirmation: "It's normal to feel this way." I stuck the note on my mirror (a technique that I use often and would highly recommend). This note is now like my little buddy, reminding me daily of the reality of my experience when my mind wants to tell the story that I am not ok for feeling the way I feel.
So, the moral of this post is: it's ok to feel the way you feel and not to add to uncomfortable feelings by telling yourself that you shouldn't feel the way that you do, or that there is something wrong with you for feeling the way you do.
I believe this is particularly important to remember during the holiday season when emotions and feelings tend to be amplified. There is a lot of reasonable sadness and loneliness intermixed with joy and bliss at this time of year, so let's not add additional stress to our lives by beating ourselves up for feeling the way that we feel.
Peace and love to you all and thank you for following me on my journey through life,