Yet this kind of freedom is deceiving. It feels free—until it comes crashing down without warning. And then there is no plan for dealing with it effectively. The result is usually to avoid or ignore, to move forward on the path that seems to come with the least amount of pain.
Like when my mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time—a liver metastasis from her colon cancer a few years earlier. I was getting ready to graduate college and start graduate school. My adult life was ready to begin, and yet I found myself moving back home. I didn’t have a plan for that.
And then two years later, when the cancer came back again. And two years after that, when it took over her body. At 27 and just four years into a young marriage, there was no plan for dealing with that either.
The ups and downs of this haphazard path take a toll over time. For me, it resulted in a debilitating case of adrenal fatigue, which forced me to slow to a crawl.
I’ve never gotten fully back up to speed. I doubt I ever will. That’s how incapacitating a lack of awareness can be.
In that forced slowing down, however, I realized I had to find a different way, because what I had been doing clearly wasn’t working. So I spent years studying and practicing holistic nutrition, mindfulness, and self-healing. I attended the “Woman Within” weekend training and joined a local empowerment circle. I started a regularly writing practice.
Slowly, a shift began to happen. New insights began to emerge. A plan began to form.
Throughout our lives, we make a lot of choices. Some work out, some don’t. Over time, as we look back and reflect, we often see our mistakes as some kind of internal flaw, an obvious defect that, had it been corrected much earlier, would have changed the course of our lives. This thinking leads to a deep lack of trust – in people, in situations, and most especially in ourselves.
When we feel we can’t be trusted to make the best decisions for our own lives, it jars our belief in ourselves as a person. We feel unworthy and in need of someone or something outside of us to help guide and direct us. We start to give up our power, our direction, our belief that we can take care of ourselves in the best way.
Sometimes, this trust is broken by an external event. Our children leave home and need us less, leaving us feeling empty and unsure of what to do next. Our spouse makes the decision to move on without us. We face a traumatic loss that causes us to question everything. No matter our great choices, life is now different and our trust in the patterns and expectations of life are shattered.
Grief, anger, fear, shame, and sadness are all emotional results of loss of trust. When we lose trust in ourselves, we grieve this loss. We carry a sadness that can be masked and avoided by busyness yet still lurks below the surface. We feel shame that we made these choices or allowed these things to happen to us, even when we didn’t actually have that kind of control. We get angry at the unfairness of it all, yet retreat back to our corners in fear that one more wrong choice will create more pain.
I remember the day someone told me I carried a great sadness. I was shocked. I didn’t feel sad. What did I even have to be sad about? Then I started observing myself more closely, especially in the quiet times when I was alone. I recall sitting in my car one morning during my commute and feeling the heavy weight of sadness like someone had draped a wet blanket over me. It was both nauseating and suffocating.
Had I always been this sad? How could I have avoided feeling this for so long?
It wasn’t until I started to allow more stillness into my life and to peel back the layers of blame for choices that didn’t turn out like I’d hope – so many not even my own – that I started to release the sadness, grief, anger, shame, and fear.
In my personal work and work with others, I’ve realized that much of our avoidance of issues comes from overthinking to the point that we drown out our inner guidance. Our inner guidance tells us that we ARE worthy, we ARE to be trusted, we DO make good choices for ourselves, and we CAN’T control other people or take the blame for their choices, even if they affect us. Yet, to get to that place, we have to sit through the voices the yell the opposite. We have to be still long enough to tell those voices to be quiet, so we can hear the real truth within. And it’s difficult. One of the most difficult things we will ever do is to confront those voices that steer us away from our inner guidance and truth. It’s also one of the most uplifting and healing.
I offer you a few techniques that have helped me and other women who’ve reached that place where they’re ready for radical change. That place where the risk of staying put and accepting the lack of trust is no longer worth the painful side effects. That point in time where something inside stirs and whispers, “enough is enough.”
- Notice how you feel in your body – We often get stuck in that place of thinking too much and not allowing ourselves to be—be quiet, be sad, be grief-stricken, be us. There are some recognizable signs that we’re in that place. We feel stress, worry, and doubt. We don’t know how to move forward or make a decision. We feel “buzzy” or heavy energy around our heads, heart, and/or belly. When we recognize these are signs of being stuck, of now allowing trust in our inner guidance, we can find a safe, quiet place to be still and work through it.
- Be still and allow– As much as the idea of getting really quiet with your own thoughts may sound frightening, it’s a necessary step. You have to allow yourself the space to get past all the loud thoughts so you can get to the quiet ones. This may take time, if you’re not used to it. Start with just a few minutes a few days a week and build up. You didn’t reach this place overnight; you don’t have to unravel it overnight either.
- Drop down – When we’re overthinking, we’re in our heads. That’s why we feel lots of energy there. However, inner guidance comes from the heart or the gut. When you want guidance but can’t seem to quiet your thoughts, focus your attention on your heart space. Imagine a beautiful, healing pink bubble of light situated right in front of your heart, glowing with peace and calm. Keep focusing on the bubble until your breathing slows naturally and your racing thoughts begin to clear. Return to the bubble as often as necessary.
If you’re at a point in your life where you’re feeling the weight of sadness, grief, anger, shame, or fear affecting you and you’re ready to do something about it, I stand with you on your journey, and I summon for you the collective energy of all the women before you who have taken this step.
Trust that you are worthy. Trust that you are enough. Trust that the healing can begin. And if you need one-on-one support, feel free to reach out to me.
Love and light,
P.S. Click HERE to learn more about the healing work I do.
Recently, two respected co-workers left one of the organizations where I work just weeks apart, and with each departure, I found myself unexpectedly sad. These were professional colleagues, not even people who I spent time with outside of work. Yet up came a strong sadness, without warning, taking me a bit by surprise.
Historically, I’ve avoided sadness and other difficult emotions. I find that I’m not alone. Almost everyone who comes to me for healing work recognizes they need to shift something. Many aren’t aware that what they need to shift is a deep sadness, carried for months or even years and often masked by anger, depression, stress, busyness, and other emotional layers of protection. It’s often surprising and personally challenging to confront someone else’s sadness, because it inevitably taps into my own raw, unhealed places.
Through years of my own work, I’ve experienced the value of working through and allowing emotions as a healthy part of a self-care routine. Though we often think self-care means avoiding anything painful or disturbing, in reality, healthy self-care entails allowing and supporting ourselves to move through difficult emotions and painful experiences. In moving through, we may temporarily feel discomfort, but we also have the opportunity to discover our strength and to experience the contrast between the shadows and the lighter side of life. It’s like a controlled forest fire; sometimes we need to allow parts of our internal forest be burned up in order to make way for new growth that follows the devastation.
That’s why it’s so important to have a dynamic toolbox of self-care techniques to address emotional triggers and deal with sadness and other emotions as they come up. Below are six tips that I’ve cultivated (and am still learning) for my own self-care routine and share with women I support in their own healing work.
Give in – When you feel the waves of sadness coming, don’t fight it. Yes, it can be scary to feel the intensity of those feelings. Yet like waves, they will pass and bring with them a sense of clarity and cleansing.
Breathe – Most of the time when we encounter something difficult or painful, we hold our breath. We take shallow breaths, which restricts the oxygen to our lungs, cells, and other organs. Taking deep, purposeful breaths is not only relaxing, it gets the oxygen where it needs to go to counteract the fight or flight response which happens with stressful experiences. Childbirth classes teach breathing exercises for a reason—because it helps to get you through painful experiences.
Hold space – Don’t let your feelings wash in and drown you. Set a sacred container for the sadness to enter and be enclosed in a safe and intentional way. This can be ritualistic, such as setting up an altar, or involve enlisting the help of a trusted counselor. It can also be energetic, by creating clear energetic boundaries for your personal space, practicing mindful movement like yoga, and using healing techniques, such as energy work and Epsom salts baths, to keep moving the shifted energy out.
Take a break – Working through intense emotions is difficult work. It can’t always be completed in an hour, a day, or even a week. Sometimes it takes years, depending on the magnitude and depth of the situation. Give yourself the gift of taking time out to take care of yourself in other ways. Go to work, tend to your family, nurture yourself with good food. But be sure not to let the important work go until it feels complete.
Be open to more work– Sometimes we feel things are complete and we’ve moved on, only to unexpectedly face them again. This is normal. We did all the work we needed to earlier. We weren’t ready for this wave. Or the timing wasn’t right then, and now it is. Follow the same process of giving in, staying connected to your breath, holding sacred space for yourself and your feelings, and give yourself a break when you need it.
Know when to ask for help – Sometimes, no matter how much you breathe and feel and hold space, it’s simply not enough. You need something more. You must be willing to be honest with yourself and ask for extra support when you need it to see you through safely. This might include talking with a good friend, finding a support group, consulting a therapist, or scheduling a session with an energy healer. This might be a whole team of people supporting you. As long as you get the help you need.
What experiences do you have with sadness? What self-care practices help you get through difficult emotions? Do you feel like you need support working through sadness? Feel free to reply with your comments or questions and let’s chat about whether energy healing might be the support you need. I’d love to be on your team!
Love and light,
The Angels want us to know that stuffing our feelings and experiences into tiny boxes and storing them away does not mean they no longer affect us. They stay stored in our bodies, waiting for the perfect time to release their anger, hurt, pain, or sadness. When we intentionally nurture these parts, they have no reason to explode. The choice is ours to open the boxes and let the healing begin.
I carry the weight of a hurting world this night
All the sadness, all the pain that man can muster
And these wings feel too tattered to lift me up,
Lift me up
Deep within, I know this is not mine to carry
Yet this weight bears down,
This torch I willingly choose, this who I am, at once a burden and gift,
Tonight this light shines dimly only on the feet just below me,
On my own broken path
No matter how much I will through words
Your suffering be transcended
Angels, gods, bended knees, and clasped hands
Can’t stop your deepest hurt
It finds you in the darkest places
Where you try so hard to keep out the light
Even the caress of these weary wings
Won’t make you whole
The mosaic of your tears, burning up the night
But if only for an instant, may they lift you up
Lift you up
I see you,
behind your veil of sadness
behind your hair
behind that wall
erected all those years ago
to protect the world from your feelings.
How’s that working for you now?
Does staying small and hiding
meet your needs?
Do you shrink at the slightest opportunity
to be a real person
with real feelings,
to be authentic in the face
of great sorrow
and great joy?
Do you let the world pass by
peeking safely through
the inevitable cracks
formed through years of chipping away
but never fully through
your fortress of invisibility?
Do your fears that mask the sadness
allow you to follow your dreams,
or do they keep you tied up,
wondering if things will ever change
if you always stay the same,
until one day someone says
without fear or hesitation,
with love in their eyes,
I See You.
I see the beauty
you think you hide,
I see the depth of your sadness,
that great well of your collective tears
bottled for generations,
I see your joys in the lines of your face
carved from peering through the cracks.
Be free. Take my hand and together
we will tear down your wall
piece by piece,
day by day,
until all the world sees
© SpiritLed 2015
The final day of vacation holds a sadness
a knowing that the hermit life created for a time must end
that all the sandy remnants washed upon the shore
which once housed life
now provide enjoyment for collectors
as their broken parts begin to renourish the shoreline
as your broken parts started to renourish while on temporary retreat
Yet the wholeness is still fleeting
as soon as the water washes upon the shore
it just as quickly recedes
and even an extended solitary stay
cannot stop the feeling
of slipping away
And so the melancholy pervades
even as the others play and walk the beach
in quiet confidence of more time
More time –
It’s what you always want
no matter the endeavor
More time to hug your children
More time to finish your work
More time to stay still
Nothing is ever enough
Why can’t the blessed moments in life be enough
without wanting more?
Each moment is encapsulated in the now, past and
future are no longer or not yet real
More implies lack, and looking out at this expanse
you know you want for nothing
except for More
Each shell you collected is real today but gone tomorrow
and you still want More
Each day a gift, never to be received again
and yet you sit, melancholy on the sand
counting the hours until you must part
rather than counting the waves, the shells,
the single grains of sand that could fill up
an entire lifetime of More
Waves, shells, sand
they know everything comes to an end
transition is the only way to sustain life
they share their wisdom
for those who are open to hear
those who dare to turn their backs on More
There is the path that cleanses all
inequity, yet I just sit here
staring into space, epitomizing this
headache that started even before
I was fully awake, setting sail to
pity parties in my bathtub ocean,
confined by solid walls, no tide
to refresh impurities, a fish tank
in the background the only
indication of moving water,