What feels Good? (not this)
I recently got into a very, very bad mood that dragged on for what seemed like forever, draining all the energy I needed to be functional. The stresses in my life were magnified to the point that they eclipsed every bit of joy and wonder I had. I was very sad, to say the least, and it didn’t feel good.
I have a cherished belief: I believe that times like these are rich opportunities for transformation. “The wound is the place the light enters you”, is my favorite quote by Rumi and a message I often share with clients and friends. However, in this case I found myself wondering if the light would ever come, and if, in fact, this cherished belief might be false. None of my tried and true self-care tricks helped much, other than to give me a few hours of emotional neutrality in contrast to the debilitating doom and gloom that had become the norm.
What was most disturbing to me was that my central spiritual practice, being mindfully aware of feelings and sensations, which had always led me to insight, resolution, and eventually peace and happiness, seemed to just make matters worse. No matter how long I was “with” my feelings, I was simply sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of despair and hopelessness . More and more frequently, uncontrollable crying was leaving me exhausted, sleepless and with a raging headache.
Looking back I can see how I had become inextricably trapped by all my negative thoughts. Thoughts that quite reasonably and rationally explained and justified my stress, overwhelm and, in all likelihood, looming depression. The truth is I’ve been in middle of a monumental transition since last November, when I found out I was pregnant (a miraculous wish come true!) and at the same time was facing total financial upheaval due to loss of employment in my household, my healing arts practice moving and expanding, and the uncertain and risky launch of another home-based business.
For months, I felt angry, resentful and sad that the blissful excitement of having a precious little baby growing inside me was being overshadowed by these uninvited growing pains, instability and uncertainty. On top of all that, like many of us, I was watching in utter horror as the political curtain was slowly drawn back, revealing the ugly corruption and hate that had been lurking just beneath the surface for so long. Yes, I had every reason to feel as I did. But that doesn’t mean it was good for me or my baby, or that I should just stay feeling that way.
In desperation I reached out on my personal Facebook page. “What do you do when negative thinking takes over and it becomes increasingly difficult to feel or see anything positive?” I received 37 comments that day and every single one of them inspired me one step at a time until I finally had the following thought:
Ok. I am ready to feel good now.
But then I had to figure out:
What feels good?
See, my life had been revolving around a different question, a question that always included the words should and do. What should I do about our financial situation? What should I do about morning sickness? What should I do to find more money? To find more clients? About those bills? And so on. I had come to believe that I would feel good again when my situation changed. When my morning sickness went away, when the bills were paid, when my husband found a job, when the finances stabilized. But the situation wasn’t changing.
I realized that I needed to stop doing what I should do to change my situation and just do what feels good.
It didn’t take me long to figure out where to start. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. My early childhood was spent reading midwifery books, attending home births with my mom, taking care of my baby brothers and day dreaming about the day I would have my own baby. By the time I finally got pregnant at age 41 I had all but given up on the possibility of my dream coming true, but here it was happening.
When I stopped doing and started just focusing on what was absolutely great, our new baby, I heard my inner voice say: Just stop. Stop doing anything that doesn’t feel good. So I listened. As hard as it was for me to stop trying to change my situation, I just did what felt good to me.
First I made a list of some things I could start collecting for the baby, and started clearing space for the things I would find. That led to a car load of stuff ready to go to Goodwill, which led to rearranging the house, which led to dumping the ugly old couch I’d been complaining about for months and, within a few hours, finding a really great one for almost nothing on a yard sale site. I planned a week off to to take a break from doing errands and seeing clients. What a relief.
All of this felt good. And led to more feeling good. My mood began to lift. Over the next week I was delighted with lovely little gifts everywhere I turned. Adorable baby clothes, a rocking chair, support and cooperation from my husband, friends coming out of the woodwork to walk and talk with.
I began to feel great, despite the fact that my situation didn’t change.
And then it did! The phone began to ring. New clients scheduled. I received a completely random check in the mail. Our new business prospects suddenly looked more promising. I got inspired by my work and by my amazing clients.
I share this with you because chances are you’ve had a similar experience at some point, or perhaps you are in one right now. Even those of us who feel healthy in our bodies, happy in our relationships and secure in our jobs can’t help but be influenced by the constant barrage of disturbing news, if we tune in at all to the media. And even if we unplug completely, many of us are certainly sensitive enough to be deeply affected by the chaotic energies of the current times. I’ve heard business is booming for psychotherapists, and many of my bodywork clients are needing treatment for acute emotional and spiritual upheaval. It is an undeniably stressful and frightening time, and there is little chance of that changing anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we should feel terrible until it does.
I still cherish my belief that transformation often involves a period of pain and suffering, and absolutely still believe in the powerful practice of “being with what is”, and yet at the same time I’ve learned a powerful lesson about how important it is to know what feels good and to actively choose that.
If you are currently struggling as I was, my advice to you is to begin to recognize what is beautiful and joyous in your life and use that as a catapult to feel better, if feeling better is what you want to do. Because after all, as I learned, sometimes feeling good is what will change your situation.