Sometimes the most affective approach is one we wouldn't expect
In our culture, we're often taught to rush, force, and contort ourselves. Harder, faster, stronger. When we hurt, we dig in deep to those muscles. No pain, no gain. We don't like how something is so we try to change it to make it fit, or maybe we deny it's existence entirely. (Toxic positivity, anyone?) Maybe we build up walls or brusk defenses. That'll keep those perpetrators out.
All of this is understandable. This is what we've absorbed by osmosis about how to approach life. It's also very human of us to puff up and protect, shut down, or put up walls when we don't feel safe. Sometimes that is exactly what we needed to survive a certain situation. We can be grateful that those survival mechanisms helped us at times when we really needed them.
Then, many times, we get to a point where we are safe, and those strategies become maladaptive. We can continue as is, or we can try for another way.
Sometimes the thing we need most is gentleness. Softness, ease and safety surrounding us, can help us let down our guard and receive the healing we've needed. One of my former business coaches and teachers Mark Silver used to say that gentleness is the antidote to anger. This was a startling ah ha for me. As I began practicing it, I realized that gentleness disarms the anger. There is no longer anything for the anger to fight against. Gentleness also reflects back how hard we've been trying to protect ourselves from getting hurt. As the anger no longer has to defend, our soft underbelly, the tender vulnerability hidden within gets revealed. But we aren't left out in the cold. That gentleness also holds and cradles that vulnerability, airs it out, and soothes the pain. I've seen this happen on all levels, physically with tight muscles that release with gentle touch, and mentally and emotionally as well.
Are there places in your life where you could benefit from offering yourself more gentleness?
Do you need a safe space where someone can offer that for you? Reach out or book a session online.
Ease gently back into the world.
Happy Spring Equinox,
Today, we find the light is balanced with the dark. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere we are going to get to enjoy more and more daylight until the Solstice in June.
I've been reflecting a lot lately about how we've just lived through three years of the Covid era. My conversations with clients and others have shown that this has felt like a bit of a time warp. It's hard for many of us to take in that this lasted three years, yet we also experienced moments that felt like an eternity or a standstill. My life changed in so many ways, and I can imagine that may be true for you too.
I noticed that in the earlier days of the pandemic there were several voices telling us to be aware that we were moving through a collective trauma. As such, we should be mindful, gentle and forgiving with ourselves. To adjust our expectations of ourselves, because we were doing the best we could in survival mode. Perhaps, it's just me and the information that I consume, but it seemed to me that message petered out at some point, though we all continued to live through this experience. I think many of us just got tired, and were doing the best we could to get through.
In case you need to hear this today, I want to remind you that the last three years were not business as usual. As things settle, and the light returns, continue to be gentle with yourself. It may take some time to make sense of what we all just lived through collectively, and, of course, what you experienced personally. (I'm waiting for the Ken Burns documentary! ;) ) If you feel tender, or cautious, or just ready to get on with it, I hear you! Allow space for what's there. Be kind to yourself. Try to be kind to others who are relearning what it's like to live again.
Make space to bring with you the wisdom that you've gleaned during this time, and permission to shed the stress and dysregulation that may have come with it. If you feel called, share with our community what wisdom you are bringing with you, or perhaps what you are most looking forward to or hopeful about as the light returns in the comments below.
Wishing you all a gentle, easeful transition into the spring.
Nourish yourself, and please VOTE!
"It's a good life, honey, if you don't grow weary." This chorus from an Alexa Woodward song has been running over and over in my mind the last few weeks. Perhaps, my inner coach is encouraging me to keep going during these trying times. We've been living in the pandemic era for over six months now, and so much of the shadow side of our society has come up to the surface. We have been confronted with the opportunity to face the unsustainable, the orphans, the bullies. Doing the work to heal and shift into integrity takes attention and presence. Two things, that as we move through these collective traumas, can take even more effort to access. It is also clear that we need to think of the long game. The coronavirus, and systemic racism are not going to vanish overnight. But how do we keep learning, and doing the work that needs to be done without burning out? Have you been feeling weary? My intent today is to explore ways that we can nourish ourselves so we can continue to do what we need to personally and collectively to move through these times while staying sane and connected to our hearts.
Before we get to our regularly scheduled programming, I feel urged to call out what I saw on Tuesday evening while watching the presidential debates. Speaking of weariness, I know many of us are tired of what we have been experiencing. So perhaps, before reading on, take a few deep breaths, allow yourself to feel what is present within you, and offer yourself some compassion. These are trying times. The behavior of our commander-in-chief, was that of a cornered narcissist lashing out trying to regain ground and control. Coming to identify the behaviors of narcissism is something we explore in my Empowered Empath series, as there is a common tendency for empaths and narcissists to be drawn together, and recognizing what is going on, and how to not get tangled in the dynamics is important for staying healthy and sane. So for those of you who are not already familiar with narcissism, how it shows up, and how to protect yourself here are a few points.
Narcissism is a trait that exists on a spectrum. In those where it is dominant, we see these key characteristics: the desire for power and control over others; a lack of respect for other's autonomy, and who they really are; a fabricated illusion of grandeur to compensate for a sense of hollowness within; a severe lacking of empathy for others. Another term that is used for narcissists and other challenging personality types is "energy vampires," as these people "feed" on the energy of others to sustain themselves. In their woundedness (likely from early life) they have not learned how to maintain their energy on their own, while respecting others' sovereignty, so narcissists rely on others for "narcissistic supply." This can be other's admiration, bolstering of their ego, attention, even "getting another's goat," so to speak, and feeding off of their anger, and fear.
There are many different types of narcissists, but in Trump we see the type that is most often associated with the term, a grandiose or overt narcissist. Narcissists are highly manipulative, and we saw many of those techniques in Tuesday's debate. Expert gaslighting: distorting facts in an attempt to control the narrative and reality of others. The intent of gaslighting is to instill so much doubt in others that they question their reality, and turn to the gaslighter as their new authority on reality. When they are successful, the illusion of grandeur or perfection surrounding the narcissist is so thick that we deny anything we see to the contrary. When that happens we've bitten the hook. We see this in the way Trump tries to control the narrative around his handling of Covid-19, despite our experiences to the contrary. The incessant interrupting was also an overwhelming attempt to dominate and steamroll, not only Biden, but the moderator, as well, to have control. Narcissists go for the low blow. They stockpile information against you, and throw it out as zingers when they think your defenses are down or you're most vulnerable. We saw this in his callous remarks about Biden's sons, and without any regard or compassion for the loss of Biden's son Beau.
We are not dealing with the average human being that we can reason with, have a discussion with an intent to find common ground, and compromise for solutions. Narcissists who are not getting help (the vast majority don't because they are in denial that they need support) cannot meet you in the middle. Their agenda of control will always be on the forefront of their mind. If they feel like they are starting to lose that control or narcissistic supply, they will double down. That is what we are seeing right now.
I could go on... but I will say if you were feeling drained, angry, upset, etc. after watching the debate, that is because what we witnessed was not healthy. As a country we have been in an abusive relationship with this president, and what unfolded on Tuesday was one verbally and energetically violent episode. If you have had narcissists or abuse in your life you may have felt particularly triggered after that event. If this is you, remember to have compassion for yourself, and hopefully there will be something useful for you in the later part of this article. Please seek out support if you are needing it.
A few points that I share with my empath students to safely and sanely navigate these dynamics:
In Wisconsin, there is still time to register to vote absentee, or early. All the information Wisconsinites need is here: MyVoteWisconsin (One of the things I love is that if you vote absentee, they give you the ability to track your ballot to make sure it is received.)In another state and want to vote early, or absentee? Find all the details at Better Know A Ballot.
For registration and all other voter information visit: Vote.gov
Your Voice Matters!
Okay, now onto the good stuff: nourishment and dispelling weariness.
Let's take another moment to pause, close our eyes, and breathe. Allow space for whatever might be coming up in you physically or emotionally. Whatever you are experiencing is just energy and information. As we practice sitting with it as we breathe, and offer compassionate witnessing, healing begins to happen. Stay with this as long as you need to.
Now, reflect upon what has been working well for you over the last several months. (I've created this worksheet for your ease in following this exercise if you like.) What has brought joy, comfort, relief, and constructive outlets for you as we move through these times? Maybe you are going for regular walks, having virtual game nights with friends and family, making tasty meals, writing poetry, meditating, puttering in the garden, napping, or snuggling with your pets or children. What new or old habits have been helping you sustain? Make a list of what has been filling your cup, how often you have been able to participate in those activities, and star the ones that have been particularly impactful. Now considering one activity at a time, with the changing of the seasons, is there anything that can, or needs to be tweaked so you can continue to enjoy it into the cooler months? Allow this to be a time for your creativity to emerge. If you can't find a solution for how to adapt a certain outlet, make note of it, and what needs it has been meeting for you (connection, movement, play, rest, support, learning, hope, inspiration, etc.).
Now, are there any new activities that you could incorporate to replace any that you will no longer be able to do? Focus on the needs that were being met, and brainstorm what other ways you might be able to meet those needs. For instance, if you were gardening and it was helping you feel grounded and inspired by beauty, maybe you could dream and plan for your garden next year, learn about the plants and wildlife in your area, study ways that you can preserve food, do grounding meditations, or paint picturesque landscapes. Perhaps there are some needs you haven't been able to meet at all during this time. What are they, and how could you prioritize them?
There may be things that have been bogging you down that you need to let go of. For example, obligations to relationships that are draining or not reciprocal, guilt about resting or taking care of yourself, or habits that keep you busy or distract that don't actually nourish you. Ask yourself, what don't I have to do? What can I let go of?
Sit with your list. Star your highest priorities to maintain, integrate, or release. Then narrow it down to 1-3 that you can focus on in the next couple months to support your well-being.
What did you come up with? Share with us in the comments .
Take good care of yourselves!
What happens when we go beyond putting out fires.
Over the last couple years, as the decluttering practices of Marie Kondo, Japanese tidying expert, have become mainstream, many of us have been going through our closets, refolding clothes, and asking ourselves, "does this spark joy?" Going through our homes like this can bring up overwhelm, and all sorts of emotion, but as we go through the process, there comes to be more space available, more peace, clarity, and hopefully joy. :)
Now, I am not writing you to nudge you to go organize your closet! But, hey, if you feel inspired to, big props to you!
Instead, I invite you to imagine your body, or energy field as a house. Take a moment, and close your eyes, breathe, and tune in. What does your "house" look like, and feel like on the inside and outside? Can you move around from different areas? Does it feel chaotic, distracting, or perhaps there is peace, and comfort? Are you bumping into boxes with who-knows-what inside? Perhaps there are things that you stuffed down in the basement or the corners of your closets that you hoped never to look at again. Maybe you are hanging onto a bunch of your aunt Milda's stuff. Check the walls, have you memorialized that hurtful thing that person said to you in fifth grade, or do you have some graphic picture you are looking at day in and day out? Make a note of what your energy seems like in this moment. Trust your instincts.
Receiving Reiki is one way that we can clear, bit-by-bit, and tidy our energy. Oftentimes, it starts out by putting out that fire in the kitchen, which, in this metaphor, may translate to releasing intense physical or emotional pain you are experiencing. Once the crisis has been averted, we start to get to those things that are impeding our daily functioning, like all those dishes on the counter, or those boxes in the way of our path through the house. With our health this may look like getting better sleep, more ease in making healthy choices, or feeling less stressed. Eventually, we get to a point where life is flowing more easily, without major drama impacting our functioning. (That doesn't mean that life stops happening, but that when crisis come up, we have the reserves and attention available to tend to them without getting caught in the drama.)
Here, we need to keep up with maintaining our chores or the clutter will start to build up again. The same with our energy, if we stop once things start to feel good, and we do not continue with self-care, and incorporating the wisdom we've learned, eventually we become burdened again.
However, the beautiful thing that happens when we continue to tend to our houses and energy, we not only maintain the flow and organization that keeps things humming in life, but we start to get to those boxes that are tucked away. Those boxes that are filled with things you didn't have time to deal with when it happened. Those things you inherited from your family, but don't fit who you are. The things you've been hanging onto out of obligation or familiarity. You can finally reach that hanging on the wall with those painful words, and take sucker that down, and burn it in the most epic bonfire of your life! The energy in those "boxes", and "pictures" take up space. Once we finally have the time to sit with them and air them out, the stuff we don't want to hang onto will dissipate. In the process, we also uncover the nuggets, the gifts, and wisdom that were tucked away in there, and we can elevate the beauty in them. Of course, we don't do this all in one go, we do it bit-by-bit so we can safely honor our feelings, and experience, and integrate what we need to in a sustainable way. This whole process frees up all this space, so your innate nature, peace, ease, and joy can more readily radiate from within you.
No matter where you are in your energetic tidying, Reiki will meet you in cleansing the next layer with gentleness. Because we all know, sometimes it's hard to do these things. If it was easy, we would have done it already. We might be overwhelmed doing it all on our own, maybe we are scared to see what is hiding out in those boxes, or we've been looking at that wall hanging for so long we've come to believe it's true. Dear one, you don't have to do it alone, it can be done in a safe, gentle, manageable way, and no, that B.S. line is not true.
So where are you in your energetic tidying journey? Share with us in the comments or send me an email. If you want help in the process, reach out. I'm here for you.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence