How many times have you heard the phrase, waiting for the other shoe to drop?
I know I have said it many times.
That phrase has its origins in the tenements of New York City. The story goes that at the turn of the century, apartments were built with bedrooms on top of one another. It was common to hear your upstairs neighbor take off a shoe, drop it, and then repeat the action. In other words, waiting for the sound of the other shoe to hit the floor. It became known as an anticipation for something you knew was coming.
This has now become synonymous with anxiety, specifically anticipatory anxiety. According to psychology today, about 85 percent of things that people worry about never happen. Think about that 85 percent of us are lost in thought, which creates an emotional experience of worry, anxiety or fear about something that will never happen. That uses a lot of emotional and physical energy. It can leave you feeling exhausted, sad, confused, unable to take action steps to move forward in your life and feeling disconnected from the things that can bring you joy. It may even create the need to turn away from feelings because they are so painful, which can lead to all types of addiction and distractions.
What I have come to understand through working with my clients, is that this type of anticipatory fear is actually held in our cellular memory. That means that the painful memory from a past event is so strong that the energy and the physical feeling you experienced from that event, actually gets lodged in your body. When a memory is lodged in the body the result may be that every time you feel, experience, go through, or anticipate an event that is similar to the original painful memory your body reacts with the same response. The fear you hold onto rises to the top and you get stuck in the cycle of fear and anxiety.
You respond from a place of fear, a fear that was trapped in your body.
As a clinician and as a hypnotherapist I understand this with a unique perspective. First, through the lens of Polyvagal Theory and second through the lens of the subconscious mind. Polyvagal theory takes us through the experience of the autonomic nervous system and its three predictable pathways of response. These are: Ventral Vagal, Sympathetic and Dorsal Vagal.
Each pathway has unique adaptive responses to help us survive. We interpret these responses through neuroception. Neuroception is our ability to detect what is going on in our environment, this happens without conscious awareness, just like we are not consciously aware of how often we blink, it just happens. When we are detecting what is happening in our environment we are always assessing for cues of safety and cues of danger. Based on our interpretation of the cue, either safety or danger, we respond from one of the three pathways of the autonomic nervous system. When we are in Ventral Vagal, we are experiencing safety and connection. When we are in Sympathetic, we are in a mobilized fight-flight state. When we are in Dorsal Vagal, we are in a state of immobilization, conserving our energy and resources.
Keeping Polyvagal theory in mind lets move onto understanding why we are waiting for the other shoe to drop from the perspective of the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind has no sense of time, it does not know the difference between real and imagination, and it reacts from old “programming” until those old programmed messages are healed. When it comes to the emotional experience of anxiety, this is something that is experienced when our Sympathetic system is activated.
Anxiety is an emotion.
We interpret a physical sensation we feel in the body and label it anxiety or maybe fear. We are activated in some way. If the sensation feels like a tightness in the chest we immediately interpret that as a cue of danger. This happens because we learned a long time ago, maybe as a child, that every time my parents fight, I get scared, my chest gets tight and I am anticipating something really bad may happen next. Now, it does not matter if something really bad happened or not, the body now has a cellular memory of a tight chest and this is connected to strong emotions. The Sympathetic system is activated, and you are in fight or flight. You learned to experience anticipatory anxiety every time you get this feeling of a tightness in the chest. Since the subconscious mind has no sense of time you respond to the event in front of you with the same or very similar coping skills you developed when you were young.
Now, as an adult, every time the Sympathetic system is active you experience this anticipatory anxiety. It is interpreted as a cue of danger. The shoe is about to drop. What if you were able to change this perception? What if you still felt that feeling in your chest but did not have to automatically jump into your imagination and go into all of the stories of a bad outcome. What if the feeling in your chest was just a message to you to pay attention to yourself for a moment or two? It is an invitation to tune into what you are internally experiencing, slow down, to carefully assess the situation. Imagine that the tight feeling did not mean something bad was going to happen but instead means you can have a positive outcome in this situation.
You can be in charge of how you respond.
It is possible what you are anticipating is a good thing and when you get that feeling in your chest it means to be excited about the next event and not scared. You have the power to change your response, you have the power to change your thoughts.
Here are a some steps to take on how to do this.
- When you feel that physical feeling in your body stop and pause.
- Take a breath in, let the exhale be longer than the inhale.
- Take a few of these breaths, being sure when you inhale you are taking deep abdominal breaths so you can feel your belly rise up each time you inhale.
- Notice how the physical feeling in the body begins to shift or become alleviated as you breathe this way.
- Become aware of your physical body. Feel your feet on the floor, your body in your chair, take note of the time, day, what clothes you are wearing. Reorient yourself to the present moment.
- Talk to yourself by asking questions like; what is the truth of the situation right now? What are the real possible outcomes? What is the best outcome? What is the worst?
- You are empowered to choose how you will approach the situation. Will you approach in from the perspective of the worst outcome or the best?
- You get to choose the way you respond. What emotional and physical energy do you want to bring to the situation?
- Take another breath and notice the shift within you.
- Now you can move forward and choose to interpret that feeling in your chest differently. Now it gets to mean to stop, pause, pay attention and choose you.
When you step into the empowered self by choosing you, you are letting yourself know you are safe. You are in charge of how you respond. You are here in this present moment, not five, ten or thirty years ago in the past. You no longer need to imagine bad outcomes with anticipatory anxiety of a shoe dropping. In fact, you get to move into a new space where you do not have to hear the shoe drop at all.
Loving oneself is a daily practice of self care.
Love is something that is ongoing.
It is something to be celebrated daily for yourself.
Love who you are, make time for you.
Do not wait for another to tell you or show you they love you in order for you to feel it or be it. This will not fully work, the effect will be temporary. It will be temporary because you first need to love you. When love comes from the outside without having a home on the inside it cannot fully be felt, it “wears” off. However, when you – love you, then love from another can stick because you already believe, know and feel the love. Essentially, it has a place to call home within your very own heart. A place within you that feels safe with being loved!
As you begin to acknowledge that you need to love yourself, you are actually stepping out of our own shadow. This means you begin to see that the story you have been telling yourself about why you are not lovable, why you are not really worthy of love and making excuses for others for not loving you begins to fall away. When you open your heart to yourself, then you open up your ability to love yourself. And when you open up to loving yourself, it is at that time that you are making room for another to love you.
We can not take in from another which we already do not possess within.
We have difficulty taking this in because we can not recognize it. Sometimes, we can not even believe that another would feel this way towards us or about us. It is like learning to read a new language, you may see letters on the page but without understanding the words the letters are forming, you can not take it in or understand it. You have no internal context for interpreting the word in front of you.
It is the same for love. If you do not know love for yourself, you can not, or will have a pretty hard time, recognizing it coming to you from another.
Today is the day to start loving yourself.
How do you do that?
Well, it starts with you. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Place your hand over your heart and say, “I love you,” silently in your mind.
2. Stand in front of a mirror, look into your own eyes and say, “I love you,” to yourself while placing your hand on your heart.
3. Write it down. Write, Dear(fill in your name), I love you. Write down 3 positive attributes. Write these attributes down 3 times on the same page and then read it aloud.
4. Do a is self care activity. Pick something that brings you joy. Some examples may be listening to music, reading a book, cooking a favorite meal, calling a friend, exercising or meditating. The options are limitless. You are only limited by your imagination.
5. Stay present and remind yourself that at this moment in time you are ok just as you are.
6. Choose you! You get to choose to let go of all you have held onto that has hurt you.
7. Imagine sending love from your own heart to any part of you from the past or present that is in pain and open up to the love you have for yourself.
Love does not happen in a small container. Love is abundant. Love really is everywhere when you open yourself up to see it, take it in and own it as a part of you.
Pause here with me now. Place your hand on your heart with me, take a breath in and say, “I love you.” Hold it there, feel the warmth, and when you are ready, exhale.
If you want to learn more about this, my book, Show Up For Yourself, explores this and helps you find a way toward healing.
If you have questions DM me in Instagram or send me a message through my website.
What is a nervous system to do?
Our children feel it, we feel it. When under stress our thoughts tend to take us into the future with worry. Right now, during the pandemic children all over the world are in a variety of new learning situations for school. Parents are worried. Parents of young children are worried about the impact of online school due to the lack of socialization and learning through play and sharing. Parents of older children are worried about how this will affect their child’s ability to get into college or be successful in life after graduation. We are all worried and wondering if our child is really learning what they need to learn and questioning if they are missing out. We are living in the year 2020, yet we are bringing the worry about some future event into the now.
The stressors you are under cause you to become emotionally dysregulated, and if you are dysregulated then your children may also be feeling dysregulated.
My clients often ask, “What am I supposed to do when I am feeling so dysregulated and I still have to parent my children?”
Essentially, they are asking, when I am dysregulated, how can I show up for my children?
This question applies to all life stressors not just the pandemic, online school and the current ways we have had to significantly alter our day to day lives.
It is up to you, the parent, to first regulate your own nervous system. Once your nervous system is regulated then you can show up for your children and help them by becoming their co-regulating partner. You do this for and with them, no matter how old your child is. Let’s explore how to do this through the lens of Polyvagal theory. Polyvagal theory gives a framework to understand your autonomic nervous system.
What is the autonomic nervous system?
The autonomic nervous system is always behind the scenes working and taking in the environment. Assessing what we see, feel, hear, and sense for cues of safety and cues of danger. This is called neuroception. The autonomic nervous system is always perceiving what is going on in our lives, in each and every moment. We react or respond based on whatever is coming into our autonomic nervous system through neuroception.
Based on our experiences, we respond through a hierarchy of one of three autonomic states when outside information comes into our awareness.
The 3 autonomic states are:
- The Ventral state. We feel safe and connected here. When we are in this place we respond, we do not react. We feel good, balanced, calm and connected. We also feel safe in our environment. When we are in this feeling of safety and connection we can pause, look at the situation with some objectivity and then thoughtfully respond.
- The Sympathetic state. Mobilization, fight or flight. Mobilization gets us moving and taking action which can be a good thing. However, many times mobilization is fueled by anxiety and/or fear. Not enough to cause collapse but enough to cause us not to function at the highest level we can function at, usually we react. Many of the times these reactions are not in our best interests or the best interest of our child. These reactions can look like yelling, punishing or other reactions that make no sense and much of it comes from a place of fear.
- The Dorsal Ventral State- Feeling immobilized or collapsing. We shut down because outside influences are way too much for us.
These are the three states of our Autonomic Nervous System. Our children have these 3 states as well. We are born with them and they develop over time. When we learn how to regulate our nervous system, we can be a co-regulating partner for our child’s nervous system. That is the key.
Become a co-regulator.
Tips and tricks, you can use to regulate yours and your child’s autonomic nervous system.
- Begin to be aware of your own nervous system by asking questions like: What is happening within you when you become overwhelmed or triggered by your child or an outside event? What happens within your body when you think about how you feel in relation to the trigger? You may feel or experience fear, confusion, anxiety. You may feel like a victim and may wind up shutting down or becoming very anxious. These reactions bring us into either a dorsal or sympathetic state. We do not function optimally when in those states. The goal is to move up the hierarchy into a ventral state.
- When you feel these big feelings of anxiety ask yourself these questions:
“In this moment that I am in, what is the response I need in order to begin to feel better? “
“Where am I feeling it in my body?”
“What does my body need to do right now to feel more calm and balanced?”
– Maybe you need to take a few breaths, grab a glass of water, take a walk, sit in quiet, stretch or anything else that helps you move into a place of balance inside.
-You are now tuning into and taking care of your nervous system. When you take care of your needs you can move from anxiety into the calm place of safety, the ventral state.
- Once you are back in safety then you can ask: What does my child need, in this moment, right now from me?
If you respond to your child from a place of anxiety, fear or uncertainty without taking care of you first, your child will respond to your anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Your child will mirror back to you the state you are in.
Your child’s nervous system reads your nervous system.
Autonomic nervous systems communicate with one another. This is why we need to take care of our autonomic nervous system first, before interacting with our child. Once we become aware of this, we can regulate ourselves, this sends our child cues of safety. In other words:
Your calm nervous system calms their nervous system.
Ways to create autonomic safety for your child’s nervous system:
- The tone of your voice– Prosody- when we speak in a calm, soft tone of voice your child’s nervous system will calm down. The research has shown that the tone of your voice actually matters more than what you are actually saying.
- Non-language sounds like hmms, ahhs and ah-ah allows your child to know they are being heard. This non-language sound is called a vocal burst and it lets your child know I hear you and you are safe telling this to me.
- Tilt your head– when you are listening to someone, tilt your head to the right or left. This creates safety. This goes back to our primitive brains and our basic needs for safety. If the neck is exposed, you are at risk. If you show your neck to another you let their nervous system know there is no risk here.
- A soft stare or soft eye contact. A soft gaze
- A welcoming facial expression. Smile with your eyes.
Three essential elements to help your child’s nervous system feel safe:
-Our nervous systems need these three elements to feel safe during uncertain times.
- Context: Information- We need answers to the questions of who, what, where, when and why. Giving this kind of explicit context and information gives our nervous system enough information that lets us know we are safe.
- Choice: Choice helps our nervous system feel safe. We need to find creative ways to create choices. This will be different for each child based on their needs and learning abilities. If your child is old enough, include them in coming up with creative choice.
- Connection: This is key, and it goes hand in hand with conscious parenting. Connection over correction. Keep coming back and ask yourself how I can be most connected with my child right now. We want to have connections to help them feel safe to decrease anxiety and strengthen the relationship.
Examples for creating safety:
-Have a dance party on a break.
– Give a hug.
– Give a cue of safety: sing a song softly into their ear that you used to sing when they were a baby while you rock and hug them. This works to calm their nervous system because the subconscious mind will remember. This will help them feel safe and help their nervous system regulate. What are the things you can bring forward from the past that used to be a cue of safety for your child and use it in the present?
-You are only limited by your imagination.
Have compassion for yourself and your child. This is a learning process. The more you learn about your own nervous system and how to regulate yourself, the better you will be to help them regulate theirs. You are your child’s co-regulating partner.
Have you had the experience of trying hard for
something, and it seems that the harder you try the more you can’t? I know this
happens so often in my life. When I find myself trying hard, I know that I am
forgetting a few basic principles of the subconscious mind.
One of these principles is, the harder you try
to do something, the less chance you have of doing it. This is called the Law
of Reverse Effect. Try is actually a negative word to the subconscious mind.
This was something I learned in my hypnosis training 18 years ago. When the
subconscious mind hears the word try, it actually interprets it as “do not” or
“cannot.” When you are “trying” to do something the subconscious knows you are
trying, because this is the language you are using when you speak and think
about what you want to accomplish. The deeper mind will work against your
“trying” efforts. This is because when you use the word try you are invoking
your imagination and the imagination will always win over the intellect. For
example, if I say to you, “try not to think about a pink dog.”… What just
happened? You could not help it, you thought about a pink dog.
It is also important to understand that there
really is no failure. If you set out to “try” something and it does not go as
planned then you may see it as a failure on your part. Failure is a word with a
negative connotation. If we fail then we have not reached a certain goal. If we
look at it as failure, and we believe it to be a failure, there is a high
probability that the next thought is, “I am a failure.” This can become a
belief system, or it may have already been a belief you held about yourself and
is now reinforced by this experience of not being successful in some area of
your life for this goal you wanted to reach.
We must be in flow. We must allow life to show
us the way and to show up for us. As much as we may want to, we cannot force
life into a certain direction. When we do attempt to force life, we create our
own stress. Instead, I invite you to follow the path life is giving you. Yet,
we find ourselves many times not even realizing the path is there or that, in
fact, we are already on the path. Instead we are frustrated because it feels as
if that things are not going our way, that we quite literally are lost and have
no idea what to do now. This happens because we have entered the path “trying” as opposed to entering the path
being open to receiving feedback.
As we enter this new path to feedback the ego
It will want to fight your growth and your
becoming. The ego does not want to “try,” the ego does not want to let go of
the old in order to embrace the new.
This is because the ego believes it is keeping
you safe in the old by not venturing into something new. Here is my question to
you, what if this belief is false?
What if keeping the old does not keep you safe
but instead keeps you stuck. This is exactly how try works against you and with your ego. The ego will not want to
change so it holds onto the negative language of the word try, which sets us up
to not accomplish.
Are you ready to explore why you are stuck?
Are you ready to look at your belief systems?
Are you ready to question yourself?
Most of all, are you ready to break free from
the trappings of your ego?
To break free from the belief if I stay where
I am, then I am safe.
To break free from the pain that keeps you
When you allow the waves of life to break over you, on the other side of the waves, the ocean is calm.
There is no going around a wave, is there?
We cannot swim around it, hide from it or
We have 3 choices:
- Allow it to take you down
- Allow it to break over you and
stand tall while it breaks
- You don’t enter the water at all
Which one of these choices offers you the
opportunity to grow?
Yes! You choose the crashing wave, you choose
to go through, you choose you! You are choosing at that moment to grow and
heal. Not to try to grow and heal but to enter in, to do the work and to come
out on the other side. You are committing to you.
The light is on the other side of the pain, on
the other side of the wave. In order to find the light, the healing and growth,
we must go through. When we go through,
we tell the ego that we are done trying, that we are done with the old belief
systems. That we are done playing small. We are done being in pain.
You are ready to embrace your authentic self.
Pause. Take a breath.
I want to offer you a reframe. Instead of
using the word failure, use the word feedback. When we take the word failure
and replace it with the word feedback, there is a shift. What if there was no
failure, but instead you viewed each opportunity as feedback to you and for
you. Feedback for your learning and as a way to refocus and redirect your
efforts toward your goal and intentions.
Putting both of these concepts together looks
like this. I am doing my best to accomplish a goal with the intention of a
successful outcome. If the outcome does not go as planned, I will accept the
feedback and use it as a catalyst to help me work toward the goal in a new way.
I can adjust the goal to be in better alignment with what I wish to achieve. In
doing so, I have not failed. I instead have set out to embark on working toward
an outcome based on my intentions. Can you feel the difference between this and trying? This reframe is empowering,
confidence building and supportive of you. This offers flexibility and kindness
to the self as you venture down the desired path.
Embark on the journey through the crashing
wave. Take it in. Do not tell yourself what you need to try to do. Just do it.
Do the thing, take action, make the commitment. Use action words with yourself like
I am going to, my intention is, I am moving forward.
The language must change. Here is how to
change your language and inner voice. I am going to eat healthy. Or my
intention is to eat healthy snacks and healthy meals. I will exercise in the
morning. I will take a walk; I will do yoga. As the famous ad says, “just do
it!” Find a way to do it, get rid of try. Step into your power. Own your
thoughts, own your actions. Allow for feedback. Learn about yourself. Grow, be,
Accept what is. This is perfect as it is.
Appreciate the present moment. See that it is this way for right now and know
it will change and shift as you flow with it. Acknowledge each experience.
Step forward, embrace the waves. You are able
and capable. Be clear with your words and your intentions. You will shift, your
ego will move to the side. It will have no choice as you will no longer be
trying, you will be doing and being.
Janet is available for in person and remote sessions. Janet is also available to come speak at your events. If you want to talk to her send an email to email@example.com for a free 30 minute consultation.
Strategies to bring yourself back into the present moment.
There have been many times in my life when it felt like I was losing my mind. Moments in time when the world feels overwhelming and I feel at a loss. Have you ever experienced this, a time or times where you feel like you are losing your mind? Times that the world feels like it is falling apart. Times where you just do not know who you are anymore and when you just feel lost and confused.
When moments of crisis hit and you find yourselves in a place of uncertainty you may even forget you have the tools in your very own emotional toolbox to fall back on. It is in those times, when you feel like you are losing your mind, that you go to your “go to’s”, in other words, you react. The reaction, most likely, comes from fear. Fear, many times, comes from uncertainty. This may be linked to the stories you have developed and believe about yourself based on your previous lived experiences. The fear may also come from a deep worry about how this event, which has caused you to lose your mind, is going to impact you in the future.
Essentially, you get pulled out of the present moment and into a reaction, which is a learned behavior from the past.
The present moment is the moment you are living now. This moment may be so painful, scary, raw, new or unknown to you that you do not want to stay there, in that moment. You forget to breathe; you start to tell yourself all sorts of stories and develop many doom and gloom scenarios of what “will” happen next based on what you have just experienced.
I want to take a moment and slow down here to deconstruct what is going on when you leave the present moment. In reality, what has just happened? Let’s look at these types of life crisis with a bit of neuroscience. The first thing that happens is you go into fight or flight mode. Your amygdala becomes activated, your adrenaline dramatically increases, cortisol is released and your brain tells you that if you do not fight for your life right now you will die. If you were truly in a life-threatening situation, this is exactly the response you want as it will give you the best chance of survival.
However, in “normal” everyday ups and downs these moments are not life threatening. In my experience, both personally and professionally, the big reaction occurs because the subconscious mind does not know the difference between the present and the past. If the feeling and/or emotion triggered is very similar or the same to something old, you react with the old learned coping skills. You react to the feeling you are experiencing in the present moment, in an old way, and the fight or flight response is activated. Once it is activated the neurochemicals kick in to do their job to save you. However, this big reaction is usually out of proportion to the situation at hand. When you finally do calm down, many times you feel badly about how you behaved or reacted and this just gives you more reason to feel lost.
are some steps you can take in these non-life-threatening situations to pull
you back into the present moment and out of reactivity.
- Slow down.
- Take a purposeful pause.
- Take 3-5 abdominal breaths.
- Talk yourself back into the
present moment by orienting yourself to your surroundings. For example, you can
say things like I am in my bedroom, the walls are gray, the carpet is blue, I
am wearing a red sweater, it is sunny out, it is 12:01 in the afternoon.
- You can get physical distance
from the trigger or upsetting stimuli.
- Place your hand on your heart
and feel your heartbeat.
- Go outside.
- Take a walk.
- Sit or lay down.
- Cry if you need to.
- Do not respond right away.
Doing some or all of these steps will give your nervous system a chance to calm down, recalibrate and get back into balance.
You have all you need inside of you to take good care of you.
There may be moments that are not pleasant or fun in life. This is the way life is. Every crisis you live through has the opportunity to bring growth if you allow for it. If you get stuck in the muck, if you let your anxiety and fear run the show it is like putting up roadblocks to your own growth potential. Those unpleasant moments may in fact be terrible times but usually they are not life threatening, they are not forever moments and in the end you will be ok.
you take the time to steady yourself, it is as if you are rescuing yourself
from going over the edge of a cliff into the abyss of the unknown. Coming back
to the present moment and being in present moment awareness allows you to
rescue yourself. When you do this, you are throwing yourself a lifeline and
pulling yourself back from the edge of a cliff. This is empowering. You empower
yourself every time you take steps to come back to the present and out of
reactivity. This is how growth and healing happen.
invite you to have compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself. In the end love
yourself, you are worth it and no one can ever love you more than your own
ability to love yourself.
Janet is available for in person and remote sessions. Janet is also available to come speak at your events. If you want to talk to her send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30 minute consultation.
The ability to heal and grow is in each one of us.
My mom died. There is no other way to say it. Using euphemisms does not soften the blow. I sit here writing this fully able to accept the reality of her death. I knew it was coming. I have been doing anticipatory grieving for the last year and a half. In this time, I watched her decline, as she slowly and defiantly, was no longer able to fight the process her body was going through because of her disease. What I have come to understand is that the ability to accept the inevitability of someone’s death does not give you the sudden super power to not feel the intense grief that comes with the finality of that person no longer being a presence in your life. I write this article with the hope of helping others traverse their grief in a healthy way.
Grief comes in stages. I believe these stages do not happen in the particular order that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about in her iconic book “On Death and Dying.” We travel these stages one moment at a time, they cannot be rushed, denied or avoided. They must be experienced. No two people grieve in the exact same way or in the exact same order of stages of grief.
Here is my definition of grief. Grief: to be in the state of sitting still in the ebbs and flow of pain. When you are grieving you must allow the ebbs and flow of the waves of pain to wash over you and at the same time allow yourself to ride them out. Allow yourself to be in the flow of it but not be drowned by it.
The feelings that come with grief can become overwhelming. It is important to remember that those intense, stabbing feelings of grief are short and once that intense pain subsides the ache of it is still there. There is also uncertainty that comes with grief. The uncertainty of not knowing when the next ripple of stabbing pain will hit you.
When faced with uncertainty many people become anxious. Uncertainty leaves you feeling out of control and no one enjoys being out of control. There is something that is certain. What is certain about grief, and the accompanying pain, is that you will feel the pain again and again until you are done feeling it. That is just the way of it. When you are able to accept the reality and the certainty of the ongoing waves of pain then you have nothing to be anxious about. Nothing to worry about avoiding. Nothing to run from. It becomes the truth of your present moment reality.
We cannot run away from grief and also survive. When we attempt to do that we cause other emotional problems within us. We may become depressed, angry, or feel guilty. It is vital to accept that the waves of grief will continue to hit. Accepting that and not to trying to out swim, avoid or fight that wave of pain is actually what allows for healing. Healing comes from embracing the pain, not avoiding of it. Avoiding allows the pain to take hold deep within you. When emotional pain is held within, avoided, and not expressed you are at high risk for getting physically ill. Unexpressed grief and pain must go somewhere. So, if you do not let out, it goes in.
After the loss of a loved one life can never fully be the same again. How can it be? Our reality has changed. Your day to day life may change because of it. Who you call or text each day may be forever altered. These changes, sad as they are, are real. We cannot fight them. We are called to step forward, to step into them, to rise up, to lean in, to learn, to heal and to grow.
Life is an ever growing and transforming process of loss, change, healing and growth. Nature shows us how to do this beautifully. Think about the great oak tree at the height of summer. Its branches are full of big, beautiful green leaves. These leaves offer life every day, contribute to our environment and the life force energy of the air we breathe. In the Autumn, the leaves change colors and eventually fall to the ground allowing the tree time to rest and heal in the dormancy of winter. In the spring, new buds emerge, and new leaves once again grow. The tree still stands, and its cycle of life continues just as ours will, the same but forever different.
Our pain feels intense in the wake of the waves of a loved one’s death. This is the way of it. It cannot be any other way. We must go through it, we must live it and live through it. We must get beyond where the waves break and reach the shore again. It may at first feel like wet sand that does not give you much support. As you keep walking the sand becomes firmer offering you more support. Eventually you will reach the boardwalk which is steady and shows you a new way back home to yourself. You will be a new you, one who has been shaped by the loss you have experienced. One who has survived, who is healing and who is growing. Grief is a process and a journey. Allow me to leave you with this poem:
Being allowed to not know.
Flowing into the unknown with confidence and grace.
Holding onto the trust in yourself and the trust in the universe.
You will be guided to the exact right destination.
Allowing that destination to be your new being state until you are ready to travel again.
This article is dedicated with love to my mother, Jackie. She was beautiful inside and out. She taught my sisters and I strength and gave all of us of her never ending, non-judgmental, unconditional love. We all have a new angel now. Mom was an avid reader and wordsmith. There is no better way for me to honor her than with the written word.