One of the biggest things that has led me to where I am today is understanding that everything – and I mean everything is an opportunity! Experiences happen to help us if we can only clear the fogged mirror long enough to look inside.
I know we’ve all had those times when someone does something or says something or acts in a certain way that hurts us or brings up feelings that we deem uncomfortable or unacceptable or just plain bad. No one, not even animals, likes to experience what we label as negative feelings.
I have been a lifelong fixer! When those negative emotions or bad feelings have come up for me in any given situation, for as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to break apart the situation and figure out how to fix myself. I would implement tactics that I thought were “fixing.”
When I was in my teens, and these things would come up I would hear my father’s voice in my head – “buck up.” I would square my shoulders, refuse to feel “bad” and muster up a false sense of confidence. A sort of “I’m better off” or “I don’t need you, ” or you’re not worth it attitude. In hindsight, I can relive those feelings, and I instantly feel a big steel door close down all around me like I thought I could be Teflon man.
Here is what I didn’t know – those feelings of pain, anger, sadness, betrayal, hurt, helplessness, shame, etc…? They had to go somewhere. I also didn’t know the longer they went unacknowledged by me, the further I moved away from the ability to connect with my feelings. It’s feelings I believe now to be my own internal GPS.
About 10 years ago when I met my now wonderful husband, I realized through one situation just how far away I had become from being able to connect with my feelings. He was a communicator so when I would get upset about something he would ask me, “what’s wrong”? This question would totally frustrate me to the point I would feel angry. In a short amount of time my brain would conjure, “he should know what is wrong without asking me.”
I realize now that response was an extension of my own frustration because I had no idea how to verbalize what was wrong. I had become accustomed to talking about what was wrong but only what was wrong at the surface level.
I remember a very early experience. It was the second year we were dating, and I had asked the beau a question. He was absorbed in something he was working with on his computer and didn’t hear me or even see me. All of the sudden something inside me triggered. It was like that clicking noise you hear on a gas stove before it ignites. Tick, tick, tick, tick, and whoosh the flame ignited and anger came barreling out, “you didn’t respond to me when I asked you a question, and it is just plain rude!” I grabbed my keys, decided we were over and stomped out. The steel doors came down around me, and the thoughts of, “well that was short-lived, thank goodness I got to see how he really is before this went much further. What are the next steps for him to get his stuff so we can part ways?” He would tell you the first several years of our relationship he could sense whenever anything of conflict came up about how I was feeling he could literally see me forming a checklist in my head to end our relationship and move on.
After a while of driving around, I realized I had no place to go. I had to go home, and I knew John well enough by now to know he wasn’t leaving until we talked.
When I got back to the house, he started asking me what was going on and the only thing I knew was to stonewall him. “It’s not important. It doesn’t matter. It is what it is.” Well, god bless his little pee-pickin’ heart, because he continued asking, “what is wrong”? Something gave way, and I finally broke open and in complete exhaustion and frustration screamed at him “I don’t know how to tell you, I can’t find the words!” He looked at me so patiently, and said, “that’s OK we can sit here as long as we need to,” and we did. I felt completely at a loss as I tried to feel what I was feeling. All I could sense was anger and what he “should’ve” done. At that moment I realized I had ignored my feelings for so long I couldn’t even get close to them with a magnifying glass. I had been trying to fix the external situation, manipulate (aka fix) myself, yet I had no connection with my Self.
We did sit there almost all night, and all I did was cry. I never did find the words to express the feelings I was feeling at that time. If I recall, the only ones I could come up with was feeling alone and angry.
This story is not meant to share a particular situation about who was right or who was wrong. Rather it is a reflection of a certain personal experience that offers insight into the catalyst that illuminated how out of touch I was with my feelings. How out of touch I was with my Self.
The next morning, I had to literally google to find a list of emotions and feelings to reference. This may seem crazy because I am not a disconnected person. In fact, my whole life, I’ve been told by people I was too emotional! But, what other people experienced were surface level reactions to situations where I was trying hard to keep my true feelings hidden. By the time the feelings would force their way closer towards expression they were out of proportion to the situation in front of me.
I began the practice of getting to know my Self, and this was not some overnight fix. Every time I would get upset or feel bad in some way or another I would sit down with my list and try to find the words that resonated with what I was feeling and then write them down. Sometimes, I would even look the feelings up in the dictionary to see if the word was accurate to what was literally defined. I had to learn the language of my heart, and it is something, in some situations, I still have to do even 10 years later.
But it has been worth it.
I have grown more patient with myself and others. I have learned how to tread the waters lightly in getting to know myself without disowning any parts, scolding myself or turning away from what feels bad.
I believe the road to wholeness is the path we are meant to travel in this life. It is the foundation for connecting with others and everything around us on a level of oneness. Being curious about my feelings has led me to my emotions, and my emotions have led me to my heart which emanates forth as the connection I have to all of life.
If you would like to discover or get close to your heart look for a list of emotions and feelings. Below are some lists I like. I tend to stray from lists that categorize feelings as good/bad. I felt strongly and still do that categorizing them, instinctively leads to not wanting to associate with them.
This list provides definitions, but I find dictionary.com just as handy.
If you decide to play along be mindful that when you do name your feelings that you are not then using that information to deny them, give yourself a hard time about having them or try to make them go away. I made this mistake at first. Naming them brought up the little voice in my head that said: “get over it.”
- For more on being kind to yourself while you discover yourself, I can not recommend this book enough.
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
- This is the author, Kristin Neff’s, Ted Talk, The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion: Kristin Neff at TEDxCentennialParkWomen
- Her website, Self-Compassion.org
For me, I always think about how I would talk to a friend. If my friend said, I feel angry – I would never say get over it. Love yourself, be kind to yourself because I promise you are your best friend!
Crystals and Minerals
Keep in mind everyone’s energy system has a different baseline and changes in any given moment so not all stones will resonate in the same way for everyone. These are a few crystals/minerals I found that helped me as I focused on feelings and emotions and allowed me to not fall deep into blaming and beating myself up.
- Rose Quartz
- Cinabrite (combination of Thulite and Scapolite)
(photo by Casey Horner)