Thursday, March 19, 2020
Earlier this week, for the first time since “all of this” started I felt a frisson of uncertainty.
A lump in my throat. Shallow breathing. Shoulders hunched. Squinty eyes.
I felt it. I observed the sensations and bodily postures. I named it. I held and soothed myself. I affirmed my presence.
Today I feel better, even though what’s happening in the world is still happening.
And to make the pertinent connection, just as you and I don’t need our mothers to change in order to feel better, we don’t need what’s happening out there to change.
Calm is available now.
Engaged is available now.
Present is available now.
Focused, confident, steady, centered, purposeful, intentional, grounded, conscious, equipped, certain, committed. These emotions are available now.
So are fear, anger, guilt, jealousy, annoyance, and disdain.
They’re all up for grabs.
Will we feel fear again? I am 100% sure of it. Anger, guilt, jealousy, and annoyance? Yup. And you can trust yourself and your body to feel and process it.
The goal isn’t to feel calm, cool, and collected 24/7/365. You don’t have to be or feel any specific way all the time. You’re not a freaking robot.
And? When you intentionally expand your capacity to feel, even if just 1% more, especially the emotions you think you shouldn’t feel, you are better able to respond to what’s happening out there. The uncertainty. The difficulty.
And the more you practice feeling, the more regulated your nervous system becomes, and you become a human thermostat, not a thermometer.
A thermometer reacts to and reflects the temperature of its environment. It is in a constant state of change, up and down. A thermostat regulates its environment. It makes micro adjustments to maintain the desired temperature. And you get to choose the temperature you want. Sometimes you’ll want it to be hotter and more intense, other times, you’ll want to chill out.
When you’re a thermostat, YOU get to choose.
Your feelings are the fuel of your life. Without feelings nothing would happen. Repression of emotion is one of the greatest crimes we humans have ever committed against ourselves. So stop making yourself wrong for feelings like fear and anger. Feel them intentionally, instead. Notice what it’s like to choose them. Notice what your body wants to do. And trust yourself.
Inevitably, when I suggest this, someone says, “I don’t have time. It all happens so fast.”
Here’s the thing…whether you take the time or not, your emotions are not going to settle for being repressed. They will show up in other ways.
As one of the women in Make It Real put it:
“It’s wonderful how feeling the feelings lets some of the steam out the side, instead of building. I can see how this has contributed to them coming out in weird uncontrollable expressions before.”
We’ve been taught that it’s not okay to slow down. This is why we’re so disconnected from our feelings. But now we’re being offered both: the opportunity to expand our capacity to feel and the opportunity to slow down. Perhaps this will be the greatest gift of COVID-19.
Much, much love,
Reveal patterns. Heal shame. Transform legacies.
P.S. Become a human thermostat. Join the Make It Real community.