The other day I was reflecting on something that had happened that rubbed me the wrong way. As I played it out again in my mind, I noticed how little time it took before I went down the “I can’t believe how wrong this is” rabbit hole.
And I mean it.
I was hell bent on coming up with 100,000 ways that this thing that had happened
TO ME was just plain WRONG. Awful, in fact.
Which of course (from this perspective), meant that the person involved in this interaction with me was also VERY WRONG. Not just wrong though.
Undeniably, insanely wrong. Defective, flawed, a hopeless case.
So wrong in fact, I could feel with 100% absolute certainty in my body, that this person was not fit for society.
Talk about a raw nerve being touched.
Thankfully, it didn’t take me too long down this rabbit hole to recognize that I had emotionally slipped back into my childhood. I quickly realized that the intensity and irrationality of my reaction was more about some historical experience than what was happening in the here and now.
I mean, I did not like what had happened to me, but that didn’t automatically qualify this person as bad or wrong.
Something was obviously amiss for me and the last thing that I needed was to be harsh or judgmental towards myself for something this unconscious getting touched inside of me.
So, I took a deep breath and stayed gentle with myself as I breathed into my discomfort.
Later, as I reflected on this experience, I began to consider how many people make things that they don’t like, things that are different or even dissatisfying to them, bad or wrong.
I imagine that the number of people who do this is probably astronomical.
It’s a simplified way to try to make some sense of feelings happening in the here and now that feel intense or maybe even a wee bit irrational.
And it happens so fast, far below your radar of consciousness.
The confusing part is that although these feelings have been triggered in the here and now, your irrational reaction to what is happening, really isn’t about now.
This kind of reaction towards someone or something else is always a clue that you’ve emotionally reverted back to your childhood.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
Nowhere in all of nature and mankind does right/wrong exist, other than in math. Nowhere.
For sure, there are things that happen that you like a whole lot more than other things that happen that you find offensive or don’t like.
That’s what personal preferences are all about.
Each of us are wired differently, need different things or approach the world differently based upon our unique characteristics, our life stories. And yes, people very often have different preferences than you.
That doesn’t mean those things (or people) are bad / wrong.
It simply means that they’re different from you and want something other than what you need to be satisfied with life.
It means that you have a preference for some other choice or type of behavior than what is happening.
It means that you prefer to be treated differently than what they are capable of doing.
It means that you have a different approach to life, loving, or managing your affairs than them.
It means that you would choose a different way to communicate or talk to someone.
But all these differences do not mean bad or wrong for the “other” and good and right for you..
It just means something different.
Sadly, our world does not do a fantastic job of supporting individuality and uniqueness. Here in the United States of America, our country prides itself on rugged individualism and “going for what you want”.
Yet, the minute someone deviates from the “norm”, they are vilified and made “extreme” or radical.
How sad and confusing then, for those brave people courageous enough to “go for their lives” especially if doing so looks different than the rest of the crowd.
I mean face it, who’s going to stay connected to their own “true north” if that means ostracization from society and those they love and depend upon for support and survival?
What I have come to learn in my work as a therapist is that in many cases, “different” touches fear inside of people.
People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Whether that happens inside or outside of them.
It’s a survival approach to life, an old vestige from our early ancestors who had many more threats to their literal existence and often only could survive if they made quick conclusions about their primitive encounters.
It was very effective then, but today leaves little room for connection and understanding.
It’s hard to move towards something that you’re afraid of, even if it’s not a scary thing. No wonder so many people feel disconnected from each other.
I realize how counterintuitive it is to consider that your way of operating and understanding the world might not be as evolved as you’ve been led to believe.
It is difficult to consider this. Especially when someone or something so different than you is standing right in front of you.
You might ask yourself though, the next time this happens, is this person or experience really bad or wrong or am I afraid of what it is about them that I don’t understand?
It’s worth a shot.
Making room for “other” does not mean that you have to change or give up who you are.
It simply means moving over so that the other person can have a seat too.
I often like to say that all growth has a gas pedal AND a brake pedal.
What I mean when I say this is that most emotional growth is not a linear, straight line. Nor does it follow standard rules of time.
Emotional growth is a non-linear process that has starts and stops, side turns, detours and even sometimes can just seem to stall.
Yet everything that happens along the way is crucial and has to happen exactly the way that it happens, in order for you to find your way back to your spirit, you know, the “who” you were supposed to be when you were born.
Way back before the world got ahold of you and said “do this, do that, don’t go there, why would you want that, feel this way, don’t feel this way and so on”.
To be sure, some of these messages are helpful along the way, for a functioning society, however, many of them end up having a gigantic effect on our ability to stay connected to our heart, and to our vulnerability. Most of all, though, to our needs and feelings.
And this is usually the point at which people find their way to my work, asking me to help guide them back to their aliveness, back to their heart.
One of the concepts that I believe is so difficult for people to grasp, along this journey, is that most everything happens for an important reason, whether we are aware of that reason or not.
I do not believe in coincidences. I gave those up a very long time ago.
That said, it can be difficult at times, to ascribe to the idea that every experience that happens in your process, is essential and brought to you, as another opportunity to find your way back home to yourself.
Especially if you’ve lost connection with emotional support inside.
This can be really, really hard to believe, in the midst of difficulty and conflict, discouragement, disappointment and the sense that you are stuck in an endless loop of despair. This is usually a sign that you’re in a place of impasse.
I believe that the place of impasse is a very important and essential part of your growth process. It is the in between place where you cannot go back to the old ways, yet the only ways you have at your disposal to cope emotionally with what is going on either are not working as well or are not at your disposal. Nor do you have enough supports yet to have a different response.
Impasse is like a mountain climbing base camp for your soul; its the place where your emotional molecules are adjusting to the depth and intensity of the emotional experiences around you.
Without going through impasse, you would plunge into emotional experiences that would overwhelm you and be destructive for your growth. You’d fall into the death zone without a tether to keep you alive.
Impasse allows you the time and opportunity to grow more emotional supports for taking the next step into your emotional experiences.
Impasse is a very sacred experience of “no”.
When you can learn how to support your “no” for taking another step towards growth, this process creates the support inside to allow the next step to organically happen whenever it is in your highest good to move.
We cannot get there, if we cannot be here.
And what is beautiful about this process is that moving forward towards something because it is organically time and we are deeply drawn to it, is a very different and energizing experience than moving forward towards something in order to get away from something else.
So, that’s what today’s experiment is about: learning how to bring support to the places in your life where you might feel stuck or idling in neutral. This place of impasse is how your own beautiful spirit is protecting you from moving forward before it’s time.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
On the heels of 2020, and still in the midst of COVID surges amongst the unvaccinated, we all have endured a lot over the past 18 months.
There’s only so much people are able to endure, before eventually you're going to run out of emotional support inside for being able to handle any more.
As I am writing this, it dawned on me that four months ago today, I was fully vaccinated from COVID19, including the extra two weeks after my second shot.
In the past, this would have been such an odd thing to have put onto a calendar as a reminder, yet if we’ve learned anything over the past 18 months, it’s been anything but “normal” and we have to consider things that we would never have dreamed of two years back.
Keeping track of vaccines, shots, quarantining, who’s been vaccinated and who has not…will this event be outside or inside… did I forget my mask... considering all these things became our new “normal”.
COVID19 and all its trappings has consumed our minds, our bodies, our time, our energy for way too long now..
And I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling weary of this and ready to have some fun and put energy and focus into restoring myself.
’m going to confess something right now about myself though, something that makes “emotional restoration” challenging sometimes for me……
Sometimes I struggle with powering down.
I have a hard time sometimes with doing less, with relaxing, with being easy.
My modus operandi is to power ‘through’ most things, complete one more task, accomplish one more thing, create or develop something.
I tend to stay pretty busy.
My experience though, is that after eighteen months spent supporting others through a very intense emotional experience on a global scale, I’m weary.
And I need a break.
I used to joke that before I started this deep emotional therapy, I used to get so much more done on a daily basis. I laugh as I say that because “getting more done” is
not necessarily a good thing.
Fortunately, I’ve also grown enough in my own process to be able to live more embodied. Which basically means that I feel my limits more quickly. Much more quickly. And this makes it incredibly more difficult to ignore my weariness and fatigue like I used to.
This is a good thing though because these experiences are experiences that show up to communicate that it’s time to make some changes, power down, rest for a while.
And that’s what my goal is for this summer.
Take some time to create more room for relaxation, restoration and fun, so that I can spend more time doing those things that feed me and fill me back up.
It’s time to do less, so I can feel more.
The “old” me I wouldn’t have ever considered doing this in the past. Now it’s imperative that I do.
I am ready to give bandwidth again to, you know, things that are “fun”.
I do hope that whatever brings you joy and fills you back up, that you make lots of room to do that over the summer..
And that if you find yourself struggling to give yourself permission to relax and restore, well, then, I hope that you have someone you can reach out to that can help you get unstuck.
You deserve it..
Let’s make Summer 2021 a summer of restoration and fun!
I’ll see you around.
Kate is an INFJ-3 on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Enneagram.