Sometimes It’s Okay to Feel Bad

Yesterday I went to the gym, feeling good about the workout because I knew I could do it. Throw a bar over my head 15 times, then do some single-under (haven’t mastered the double-under yet) – I was looking forward to it!

Except when I got to the gym and tried throwing that bar over my head. 15 times. I went into it with an expectation that the ‘prescribed’ weight was fairly light, I knew I could get it off the ground and up to my shoulders. But unfortunately that wasn’t the workout, the workout involved yanking it up from the ground and throwing it directly over my head all in one motion. 

And that I could not do. Not even once.

So I stripped the bar and added a lighter weight. Still couldn’t do it. So I stripped that weight and added the smallest weight I could before having just an empty bar. I was finally able to handle that one, but I was bummed that it didn’t go the way I had expected it to. At all.

Disappointed, I left the gym and went home to get ready for work, only to discover that my dog had gotten on the counter while I was at the gym, and had eaten the cornbread that I was planning on having with my lunch that day. And then, when I went to change my clothes, I pulled my sweatshirt off over my head and got my hair caught on the zipper, yanking out a good chunk of it. 

By that point it was only 6:30am and my day was off to a REALLY bad start! I wasn’t in full-fledged self pity mode yet, but I was definitely staring at the possibility.

Later on at work, in an attempt to make myself feel better, I decided to take a break and drive to Starbucks for my favorite coffee (blonde vanilla latte with two pumps of caramel please and thank you). And then when I got back to work to drink it, I realized they had forgotten all the flavoring and it was basically just a coffee with steamed milk (wah-wah).

Normally this would have sent me straight into a full, grown-ass-woman pout for the rest of the day – which is NOT pretty! 

But recently, I’ve started studying a lot about feelings, and how much power we actually have over them. As an experiment I asked a few people on Facebook what they did for a ‘pick me up’ when they were feeling down, or when things weren’t going their way.

Their answers were all a little different, but ALL involved doing something that didn’t address the actual problem. Instead, they chose something that allowed them to AVOID THE BAD FEELING ALTOGETHER. Whether that was bingeing on Netflix (a common answer), or indulging in food, alcohol or online shopping.

We just want to do something that will make us feel better right now. We hide in something comfortable to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Rather than deal with the uncomfortable feelings, we choose to hide from them. What we want is something that will make us feel better right now, so we hide in something comfortable to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Have you ever done this? And does it really serve us? Do we consider the long term effects of eating all that candy or carbs? Do we consider the long term effects of drinking that alcohol? Do we consider the long term effects of that cigarette, or too much online shopping? Are we really willing to pay – in the long term – for the effects of all those habits just to avoid whatever uncomfortable, TEMPORARY, feeling we’re having right now?

Here’s something to consider…why not just let ourselves feel bad? Who says we’re meant to be happy 24/7?? Well, besides the internet, tv and radio. Every day. All day 😦 

But, just maybe, we’re not here on earth to be happy all. the. time. That without the bad, we wouldn’t know what good IS. Without sad we wouldn’t know what happy is. 

“If we only experienced positive emotion all the time, we wouldn’t even know it was positive. We wouldn’t be able to distinguish beauty without knowing what ugly is.”

-Brooke Castillo
The Life Coach School

One thing I realized about my no good, really bad day is that it was all brought on by my expectations on how the day SHOULD have gone.  In my mind I SHOULD have been able to lift that weight, I SHOULD have been able to enjoy the cornbread (did I mention it wasn’t just cornbread, but HONEY cornbread!!?), there SHOULD have been sweet creaminess in my coffee!

Without me having those expectations, would my day really have been that bad? I mean: #1 I still had a good workout. #2. I still had another box of cornbread I could make. #3. I still took a break from work and had a nice, hot coffee.

Eventually, I just accepted the fact that my day was obviously not meant to follow the expectations I had set out for it! And instead of fighting that reality, or feeling sorry for myself, I thanked God and the Universe for showing me a bad day so I could truly appreciate my good days…how many coffees, before that one, were just fine? How many times have I PR’d at the gym that I’ve only been going to for 4 months (3 PR’s btw!). How many times have I taken off my sweatshirt without ripping out my hair with the zipper? (Honestly that had never even happened to me before that day).

Your feelings alone can’t hurt you, only your reaction to them can.

So maybe the next time you’re feeling disappointed, sad, frustrated, or even scared, instead of reaching for something to mask that feeling, something to make you feel better right now, just acknowledge it. Your feelings alone can’t hurt you, only your reaction to them can.

Learn to look at the feeling objectively, maybe even with a little curiosity…What triggered you into feeling that way? Did something (or someone??) not meet an expectation that you set for it? Or for them? Did something not go the way you felt it should, or expected it to? 

If you’re feeling bad, or sad or scared, it’s alright to just accept that it’s just the way you’re feeling for the moment. It’s temporary, there is no need to hurry and move away from it or hide. Realize it for what it is, that whatever you’re feeling is OKAY, because you’re human. Make your peace with it, and then keep moving on. Just like good feelings, bad feelings end too.

It’s going to be okay my friend 🙂

Thank you for reading my little blog 🙂 

Transitions and Letting Go

One thing I’ve learned about getting older, is that it comes with a whole lot of having to say Goodbye…to old habits, to old friends, to family members, and let me just say that I don’t like it.

No sir, not one bit.

When we have to say goodbye to someone special who has passed away there’s obviously nothing we can do about it, they’re gone and it’s out of our hands. We can only hurt, grieve, and mourn our loss, but then we have to continue moving on through our lives without their physical presence.

But what about having to say goodbye to someone that is still living? Like saying goodbye to our children as they strike out on their own? Or a parent, or grandparent, or a spouse that has been affected by disease and who is technically no longer ‘there’ mentally, but is still with us physically? Or a former friend or partner that we had to walk away from, or who walked away from us. How do you grieve for someone or something that is still physically here? How do you get closure from that??

There is a Buddhist parable called “Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow”. You can read a full version of the text here, but a (severely) paraphrased version would be: Imagine a person has been shot by an arrow. It causes them pain, so in grief and anger they beat their chest and become distressed. Because of their response to the first arrow they are now feeling ‘two pains, one physical and one mental’. It’s the same as being shot by two arrows, only the second arrow is one they shot at themselves.

We have every right to feel pain over losing someone, whether physically, mentally or emotionally (or all three), or transitioning to a new season in our lives that we didn’t necessarily choose (hello fellow empty nesters, or simply growing older!). Maybe the person or relationship we had to leave was hurting us in some way, or was unhealthy. We cannot ‘un-shoot’ that first arrow, it was out of our control and it’s natural to feel angry and hurt because of it. But we MUST stop shooting ourselves with the second one.

Sometimes holding onto that grief, or that anger or that hurt feels ‘safe’ because it’s familiar. And maybe some of us have honestly held that space for so long that even the pain of being in it is less scary than the uncertainty of letting it go. In that way, holding onto past pain seems to serve us.

But that is a false perception. The reality is that holding on to pain and hurt is holding us back from happiness. It’s keeping us stuck, walking in an endless circle of resentment and anger. Friend, we HAVE. TO. LET. IT. GO! For our own future happiness, and for the sake of those who love us. We deserve so much more! We deserve to be free of that pain and that anger, and I assure you it is 100% possible to exist outside of it! WE are the only ones being hurt by holding on, and WE are the only ones who can let it go.

How to let go of pain may look different for each of us…maybe journal the shit out of it. Write it all out, get a notebook, pour out a stream of consciousness onto the pages and then tear them up, or burn them, but don’t re-read them! Don’t go back.

There are an unlimited amount of positive books, blogs and podcasts to turn to…anything by Rachel Hollis, or Brooke Castillo, Tony Robbins or Jenna Kutcher. Go for walks, work it out in the gym, color, paint, create, talk to a professional (this is the 21st century, there is no shame in seeking help), meditate, or even join a group of like-minded positive people. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. (If you need inspiration on how to commit to your healing check out my prior blog Committing to Commit.).

Like they say, the time is going to pass anyway. Would you rather spend it holding onto past hurts that no longer serve you? By resisting and resenting change that is inevitable? Or will you let go of that second arrow, and spend your time discovering the whole world of possibilities that lay in front of you? Thankfully, that choice is up to you.

Thank you for reading my little blog 🙂

Vicki

You are Enough. Right now. Just as you are.

So I’m probably not the first ’empty nester’ to start examining their life’s journey, trying to figure out who I am and how I got to Here. It’s probably a bit of a cliche by now in fact, but it’s all new to me so I’m going to put into words what I’ve figured out up to this point.

When I was a kid I unknowingly trained myself to become invisible. Being visible did not always lead to good things, and sometimes those ‘things’ were downright not good. So I learned to be quiet, avoid eye contact, and keep a very low profile.

I think that we all pick up behaviors when we’re younger that we use to survive, to help us navigate an adult world when that world is scary or uncertain. The problem is how do we let go of those behaviors when we’re adults and those behaviors no longer serve us? Especially if that world is all we’ve ever known?

I have finally figured out how to stop looking at life through the eyes of a scared, self-conscious, intimidated child. I’m a big girl now, but I discovered recently that I’ve never entirely let go of that old narrative, even after raising my own, wonderful, independent children. I’ve held on to it all of these years, because I never knew that I could let it go. That it no longer had to be a part of who I was!

I have no idea if you’ve ever felt the same way. If, at whatever stage you are in your life right now, you might still be carrying around your old narratives, your old insecurities. But, just in case you are, let me be the first one to tell you, NONE OF IT WAS YOUR FAULT. YOU WERE JUST A CHILD, AND YOU ARE WORTHY…of love, of attention, of security, of good things and happy days, of being SEEN! Don’t wait for someone to give it to you, take it!! It’s yours, and you have every right to it.

Okay, there, that’s all I wanted to say. Please know that you are worthy and you are loved and you are special.

Thank you for reading my little blog 🙂

Committing to Commit

So here’s the thing about committing…you can’t try to commit to something. You have to decide up front that you’re all-in, that it’s a non-negotiable. It’s getting up at 4am to get to the gym by 5am, now matter how sore or tired you are, or how comfortable your bed is. It’s staying home on a Friday night to write that thing that’s due by Saturday even though your friends are texting the shit out of you to go out with them to a club. Or the movies. Or dinner. It’s respecting yourself enough to honor the commitment you made, to YOU, in order to better yourself, or to better your situation. It’s not giving up on YOU, even though giving up on yourself is so much more comfortable, and, oh, so much more familiar.

Maybe you already knew all of this? I will admit it has taken me a very long time to figure out this piece. I’ve always been really good at deciding to try something new, and then beating myself up when I would (predictably) quit. Every time. No matter what it was…writing that paper, going to the gym, trying to find a different job. I would find a temporary, external motivation like a blog, a movie, or an Instagram post, and when the external motivation faded, so did I. I mean, after all what did it really matter? It was only myself that I was letting down, it’s not like anyone else was getting hurt?

Then one day, after beating myself up for quitting yet another thing, I found my answer. I noticed that, if a friend or family member asked me to go somewhere with them or help them with something, and I told them I would do it, then I would do it. I would show up for them, no excuses. Obviously they mattered to me so I wasn’t going to let them down? And that’s when I understood why I couldn’t commitment to myself, it was because

I DIDN’T MATTER TO ME.

I didn’t possess enough self-respect to follow through with the things I told myself I would do. I wasn’t important enough to show up for me.

You always hear people on social media and podcasts talk about how “we need to love ourselves”, and I was never sure what that meant exactly? I mean, it’s not like I hated myself, so, wasn’t that kind of the same thing? But then I remembered an epiphany I had once (a long, long time ago) when I realized that two people couldn’t truly love each other unless they also had respect for each other. So then, wouldn’t the same hold true for the relationship we have with ourselves?? I mean think about it…if I didn’t have enough self-respect to honor what I told myself I would do, then I didn’t really have self-love either, which was why I could repeatedly quit on myself. It’s because, at the end of the day, I didn’t honestly believe that I was worth showing up for.

That may sound sad, but it allowed me to wake up to the fact that I needed to start respecting myself. To understand that I WAS worth showing up for, and worth loving too, for that matter. I mean, would you ever say out loud to your best friend, or a loved one, the things that you say quietly to yourself? Would you ever treat them like they weren’t worth showing up for? YOU are a living, breathing human being, YOU are worthy of respect, and YOU are worthy of love. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or who you’ve been, or what your circumstances were in the past. You are a perfect creature made by God, or the Universe, or whatever you choose to believe. You are a part of this world and you are worth showing up for, so BELIEVE THAT, for your sake, for the sake of your friends, and for the sake of your loved ones.

So commit to something. Today. It doesn’t need to be something huge and scary, just start small. Commit to getting up a little earlier to spend some time in thought by yourself, or journaling. Start a morning routine that sets a positive, even tone for the day. Or commit to spending a half an hour – or one hour – a week doing something creative…color, paint, make something, dance, or go for a walk. Whatever it is, block out the time, and make it a commitment, a non-negotiable.

Because YOU are worth showing up for.

Please feel free to comment below, I’d love to hear your feedback.

And thank you for reading my little blog 🙂

-Vicki

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