Has anyone ever give you total permission and encouragement to be a complete hot mess? Have you ever felt like you’re completely free to fall apart? To let your dark emotions flow out of you unchecked? Have you ever been able to look at the darkness that we all go through as a gorgeous, beautiful, powerful thunderstorm that actually serves you? That nourishes you? That cleanses you?
Here’s a little secret: I’ve been kind of a mess for a few weeks. The kind of mess where I could desolve into tears if someone looked at me with an iota of kindness in their eyes. The kind of mess where I want to go numb, binge watch Sex In The City, while eating something dark and sweet. The kind of mess where I want to cancel all my appointments, withdraw from society, quit everything and travel the world, unattached to my current reality.
I’m telling you this because I know I’m not alone. I’m also telling you this because I’m still walking around in my life with a smile on my face, showing up for my life, being a mom, a wife, a friend, a co-worker. I’m wearing a mask of “holding it together.” You wouldn’t know this from passing me on the street, or saying hello to me as we casually converse in line for coffee. I’m getting a bit vulnerable here and letting you peek inside because I think we all need to know that we all go through moments of mess. Moments of breakdown. Moments where we feel like we are so far away from where we really want to be that it feels as though we will never get there. I’m sharing this with you because I think we all benefit from seeing behind each other’s masks.
I’m someone who has spent most of her adulthood running as fast as my beautiful spirit can go away from the storm. I’m a happiness junkie and when there are dark clouds on the horizon, my inner alarm starts loudly wailing: DANGER! DANGER! I am so averse to feeling the dark feelings: sadness, grief, and anger because I feel it so intensely. For HSP’s, these intense, hot mess moments can feel overwhelming and scary. I am learning to integrate all sides of myself, the light and the dark. I believe this is an essential process of moving into acceptance and true self-love. I used to think enlightenment meant that I would reach a state of constant bliss. I thought that I would master spirituality and learn how to “fix” myself, my “humanness,” and live the rest of my life open, accepting, loving, kind, and unaffected. I thought that when I reached Nirvana, I would never again experience the dark emotions that frightened me so much. I now realize that self-acceptance, self-love and enlightenment mean becoming your true self, integrated, whole and accepting all of it. True enlightenment is realizing that we are not broken or flawed, that the dark can be as embraced as much as the light. There is nothing to fix, because there is nothing wrong with us.
So what’s an HSP to do when the storm strikes? Here are a few tips:
- Allow the feeling: The more you run away from the feelings, the longer they stick around. What you resist persists. It’s time to lean into your feelings. Turn the tables on what you believe. When we can accept that we all have light and dark, then we can realize that no matter what we are feeling, either bliss or sorrow, we are always on our path. We are always in the right place. What creates even more suffering than the actual feeling is our judgement of it. The resistance itself creates and perpetuates our feelings of hopelessness and overwhelm. The feeling is just a feeling. End of story. It’s the judgment, the story we create in our misguided attempt to categorize, control and avoid the feeling that generates most of our actual suffering. So let the feeling come so it can move on. This is also a form of surrender, of release. There is tremendous freedom in saying, either quietly in your head or at the top of your lungs: I SURRENDER! Trust that you are taken care of. You are. Surrender and acceptance help the storm pass.
- Move it through your body: Movement holds tremendous power. Suffering is of the mind and when we are trapped in our heads, trying to think our way out, we will stay stuck. Moving into our bodies and out of our heads helps us cultivate space to feel. Many of us have a tendency to go numb. It’s easy. Movement takes us out of numb and back into power. It’s action and it moves the energy. How do you do it? Any movement that suits you is perfect, as long as it serves to get you in your body. A simple way to do it is to move it to music. Find music that fits your mood: angry, sad, joyful (Yes, you can dance your joy as well!) and just have at it. Honestly, sometimes dance is too strong a word. Sometimes for me, it’s swinging my arms to move the energy. It just has to be movement. Be instinctive about it. It might feel really silly at first, but do your best. Notice if you are thinking, and if you notice that happening, move back into your body. It can be slow or fast. The important thing is to simply match the movement to your feeling. If you are caught in anger or grief, feel it, dance it, move it, than upgrade it. Make sure to move into a higher feeling movement so you don’t get stuck in tremendous anger or grief. You can change the music to something more joyful, more hopeful, more uplifting and then move that for a while. There is no right or wrong.
- Know it will pass: Like a storm, the feeling will pass. When you let go of resistance, you allow it to move. If you imagine the feeling as a wave, visualize the difference between a wave that is allowed to move all the way to the shore vs. a wave that meets a high wall, crashes against it and falls back in on itself. Remove the wall, let it flow and notice how it passes. You will feel lighter. You will create the space for happiness to creep back in. Feelings are like seasons. They change, transform and move. They are never steady. They are never permanent. They are ever-changing.
Falling apart creates the space for something beautiful. If you can see this as fleeting, temporary, an essential part of life, something to embrace that gives birth to greatness, you can shift your relationship with the storm. As one of my mentors, Mama Gena says, “We are always on the verge of a masterpiece in the making. It just doesn’t always feel that way.”
You are a masterpiece, all of you, even when you are a mess.
With so much love,