It seems like life should be good all the time. That there should be no sad days, or days where I just don’t feel motivated to do much of anything. But they exist and we just don’t talk about them. In fact, change is the only constant. The days we feel we are in our darkest places are the days where our inner compass is realigning, giving us the message that we’re not quite on the course we want to be on. That change needs to happen.
Change is always happening. We live in a natural world full of birth, death and all of the seasons in between. What we forget is that sometimes we don’t really want to hear the messages from our bodies, minds and hearts, which is our being calling for change from the inside out. This type of change produces no obvious signs to the outside world – making it all the more tempting to busy ourselves with other things in order to push it aside. It is so much easier to blame our need to change on external factors, something we can compartmentalize as outside of our control, therefore outside of ourselves. By doing this, we think we are avoiding the pain, yet end up dragging it along with us, numbing ourselves to its effects. When we can be present with our pain instead, there is boundless potential for us on the other side of the process. We are so free!
Freedom is found by integrating and embracing change in order to find the hidden potential within it. Change is a gnarly process of undoing and untangling oneself, then doing the work to knit the loose pieces back together into a recognizable and hopefully beautiful pattern. It is a process.
Our culture does not like to discuss the processes of change much. Change is born of grief. We shy away from grieving at all costs, and when we do grieve, it is privately. We think we can ‘get over’ our feelings of dissonance through distraction, hoping for freedom by not facing it.
Our inability to be present for our own and others’ discomfort is why we have chronic levels of addiction in our culture. It is really hard to sit with difficulty emotions without trying to solve or resolve them. We have all developed our coping mechanisms for easing our pain. It is much easier to disconnect in our darkest times than show up for ourselves. Hiding our pain creates a disconnection from our emotional bodies (connection to ourselves) and forces us into isolation as we are discouraged from sharing our pain (connection to others). If we allow ourselves to be present with the discomfort, really feeling into it when it comes, the root of the pain will be allowed to ease and release.
The truth is that none of the process required to find our way through change is wasted energy. We pale at the idea of having to give something up in order to make room for that which is new. Although our minds do not like the idea of loss, especially in a culture where more is better and we can have whatever we want whenever we want, like a snake, we must shed the old skin before becoming renewed.
Many of the people I respect in the parenting field are urging families to accept emotions, validate, and respond with love. Seeing the sad, angry, jealous, guilty, afraid child as hurting and needing comforting rather than acting out can help us respond with compassion. We need to see our children as whole beings who are perfect just the way they are, with some struggle happening on the surface of their being. When we can observe the emotional states like passing storms, it makes it easier to accept them as temporary and not ‘the unsavoury future of our child’s psyche.’ Our culture really parents with a desire to control our children’s behaviour, and only show the ‘good stuff’ to the world. What has happened is that us children of past generations got really good at hiding the truth and showing up only with what is considered ‘desirable’ – leaving the heavy emotions for us to bear in silence and isolation.
What if we were able to treat ourselves with as much compassion as we have for our hurting child? What if we could see ourselves as whole and perfect in the process of weathering an emotional storm? What if we could show up for ourselves with love so that we feel held in our own struggle? We deserve it. The world deserves it.
Let’s stop pretending we are happy all the time.
Let’s have patience for our difficult emotions to dissipate.
Let’s give ourselves permission to take the time to feel.
Let’s remember that the process of change takes time.
Let’s change what change looks like.
Let’s change the world.; t