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Who’s on my side?

I’m not in a great place this morning. I didn’t sleep well and am grumpy and off. I apologize for my crustiness. Sometimes life is not fair.

I’ve spent so much time in my head telling myself life is not fair. I was a pessimist and a cup-half-empty type of person. I always waited for the other shoe to drop and the corner to turn for what I feared would happen. It’s easy to get stuck in such a dark place. Year after year things happen that aren’t fair, aren’t right, and certainly not good. The key words are ‘get stuck’. I was stuck in a habit of negative thinking -- my mind immediately went to the worst thing that would happen in any situation.

I’m remembering the day I was told my best friend, my horse, was euthanized due to an unresolvable illness that kept her in pain. I had hope for Betsy but my parents made the decision without telling me and while at school the vet did the deed. I was so devastated I swore I would never talk to them again and I vowed in that moment I would never get my hopes up again, ever.

I believe it was then I literally lost hope. I sent hope away and shut the door. All this happened before I was married, before I had children, before life really set in.

In my work with Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, I teach the concept that words have energy. I truly believe they do. Vowing to never have hope again is not just a sentence that rides out of my mouth on waves of despair. Energetically my words became a presence in my energy field and took up space sealed off like a hidden room within. My despair got locked away.

As life happens, more despair happened and eventually I got into therapy and worked through my loss of Betsy. I learned how absolutely important it is to address the pain pockets inhabiting my insides. Otherwise, they get bigger and bigger.

What was my biggest ally in addressing my pain pockets? Not my therapist. It was my journal. I started journaling after my second daughter was born. My journal was my most trusted confidante. I dumped my feelings in my journal. My rule was no holding back. Even if I wrote the “F” word a thousand times, it was my journal my choice.

Journaling opened my pain pockets slowly on my own time at the pace I could handle as things came up.

My bottom line is if I don’t step up to my insides and address my pain, who will? There is no one better to understand me, than me. I am not the helpless teen any more. I am an adult capable of problem solving and providing what I need.

Susan Jeffers offers seven statements about taking responsibility I want to share:

  1. Taking responsibility means never blaming anyone else for anything I am being, doing, having or feeling.

  2. Taking responsibility means not blaming myself. It’s important to understand that I have always done the best I possibly could in any moment.

  3. Taking responsibility means being aware of where and when I am NOT taking responsibility so that I can change.

  4. Taking responsibility means handling my inner chatterbox

  5. Taking responsibility means being aware of the payoffs that keep me stuck.

  6. Taking responsibility means figuring out what I want in life and acting on it

  7. Taking responsibility means being aware of the multitude of choices I have in any given situation.

Sometimes the hardest thing to discern is what I want. I can easily think of what I don’t want and also list all the reasons why I don’t deserve them. Those negative thoughts are a clue to where my mind is stuck.

Awareness is a tool to help discover the clues to my inner pockets.

I gather and use tools that help build optimism within.

My body communicates wisdom if I take the time to listen.

My heart is the brain in this process. I let myself cry when I need to. I write my feelings and I embrace myself with kindness as I am the key.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” - Viktor Frankl, Austrian Holocaust survivor, neurologist, psychiatrist and author

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I have to ask for help today. I’m in a very serious and precarious situation. I have attention-deficit disorder (ADD). Concentration on details has been a challenge for me. Since I returned to work in June, the anxiety from Covid has been added to the job. The company is doing all they can to protect people. The testing means that at that moment a person is safe. My own anxiety about my well-being is high. This anxiety has manifested in my work causing me to make mistakes. I am desperate. I met with my managers yesterday regarding my mistakes. I’m trying to figure out how to cope. I can’t get any therapist to return my calls. I’m in despair. I’m working on tools to help me focus. This morning, an angel manifested on the trail I walk every day. She reminded me to do affirmations, especially ones related to this predicament. The advantage of ADD is that every day I forget what brought me down before.

  • Thank you for the trust in sharing what you are struggling with.

  • Thank you for the reading this morning. I wrote many words down. As you were talking, so many of those things were so helpful. I wrote down the word awareness because it sounds like that was part of your process in coming out of where you were. And all that journaling was so great and helpful in the whole self-actualization in knowing who we are and how we feel. I can identify with that, having spent so many of my early years shut down and stuck in my feelings. That piece about responsibility -- I think for me, my journaling has been about becoming my authentic self and having a responsibility on this planet to myself and to others. Not playing the blame game so much. And the thoughtful word choices. I didn’t know I had choices. It’s something I’ve learned, and I learned to make better choices. No matter how stuck I am, I often discover the fact that they may not be great choices, but I still have some. And I can pray for guidance for the best choice I can make.

  • I loved visualizing pockets of pain because pockets mean it’s contained, it’s small enough. A pocket is not encompassing the whole body. When I was in pain and grieving, it felt pervasive in my whole body. But if it’s just a pocket of pain, things like that might be doable to unclog it. So I was visualizing this pocket stuffed with Kleenexes from all the crying from the pain that’s in the pocket and unclogging it and getting rid of all the Kleenexes so that I could actually work on what was in that pocket. Visualizing it that way was helpful for me. So thank you.

  • I recently bought this thing, it’s reminiscent of the Catholic scapulars, it’s like an amulet. Someone makes these little hand-embroidered things you can wear. I’ve been wearing this side (with a rainbow). On the other side it says ‘hope.’ Today, I happened to turn it around to that side. It’s like carrying around an affirmation. It’s right here at my heart, I have an affirmation. It would be nice if I could put a heart stone in it.

  • The one strategy you mentioned that sat with me was at any given moment, we have a multiple of choices we can react with or respond. I think about that when I meditate, but in every day conversations, I really do forget it in the ways we respond to people. I’m thinking next time I don’t know what to say, I may just say, ‘there are a lot of ways I can respond to this, let me think about it.’ It’s good to have a line like that in the back of my head.

  • Thank you so much. When I was younger, I became aware of how much I hated my family member lecturing me. I would sit for hours listening to him lecture on and on and on. After a lot of therapy, I saw that I had a victim mentality and I couldn’t walk away. My therapist said I was handcuffed to the chair. I finally turned it around. I said to myself, ‘this is my choice to sit here. It’s a bad choice, but it is my choice.’ After that, every time he lectured me, I kept saying that to myself. I kept empowering myself with those words. It doesn’t make me a bad person that I am making a bad choice. I am just accepting my choice. And one day, he started lecturing me and I said, ‘can you excuse me for a minute?’ I went into the bathroom and stayed there for a bit. When I came out, he had walked away. I had changed the dynamic. I had unlocked the handcuff by empowering myself. It took my recognizing I had choices, even though they may be bad choices.

  • Thank you for sharing that reading. I’m new to meditation. As I tried to empty out in the moment, all these things from my childhood come rushing in. There were so many things. I wasn’t allowed to be part of a decision, not allowed to have feelings, not allowed to voice them. I was just stomped on by an iron-fisted father and a mother who was not able to speak up or stand up to him. I remember that time when I was sick with a very high fever. We had a sheepdog I loved so dearly. The sheepdog did something that angered my father, and he euthanized the dog. When I got better, it was awful that my dog was gone. I grew up in a powerless childhood.

  • It’s those painful pockets that we open up and giving them air will help.

  • Matt Kahn, the spiritual teacher says, “If you feel it, you heal it. If you hear it, you clear it.” Those are affirmations that I say to myself. This pain I’m feeling, it doesn’t mean it’s here forever, it means it is healing. It’s a way to keep moving forward instead of getting stuck in the pain. Real painful things happened to each of us and it hurts.

  • I like that. I went through too many years where I had no feelings, no memories. Then there would be a trigger and I’d wonder where did this come from. It’s incredible. Very empowering to hear the tools that you’ve used, and see how far you’ve come and what you’ve done for many years.

  • Not remembering past childhood trauma is self-preservation. I was told this a long time ago in therapy. Things come up to feel when I am ready to feel them, and they won’t surface until I’m ready. It’s the wisdom of our soul. I don’t need to force a memory out. It’s like waiting to get ripe. As things come up, I trust they are ready to come up. Feeling them, writing about them, talking to a professional about them, anything to keep them going airs them out. Healing happens. Each one of us is worth the effort.

  • I wanted to say that journaling is a really helpful way to start feeling those feelings, to start opening up a little bit at a time, putting to words what is in that pain pocket. It’s a wonderful tool. My journaling group meets weekly and we read to each other from our journals if we choose to. We write, share, and reflect. Very powerful.

  • Thank you for listening to my words, trusting this process, trusting your process, spending time with yourself however you do it. Meditation is not a one-way thing, we do it the way it works for us. I wish you all a gentle day as we move forward.

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