So what else is there? What else is Beneath the leaves? This is a question I believe we will all be asking ourselves our entire lives as we navigate from our ego to our knowing and back again. The ego is the part of us that is afraid–the shadows under the leaves. The fear and belief from the ego lurk within us until we overturn each leaf one by one.
As we overturn each leaf, we either learn things we do not like about ourselves or feel feelings that hurt. This is why so many of us stay lost. It’s easier to shove things down and move on. It also drains the life out of us.
Walking into our fears and wounds takes incredible bravery. It is not ordinary for a person to wake up and decide to intentionally feel pain. I want this for you; the choice to wake up and decide. This past fall a choice I wanted to make for myself was made for me. The pain came with it. I wish I had been brave enough to make the choice for myself, yet I am so grateful for the universe, God, or whomever you shall call her making it for me. I then had my own choice to make. Run and hide or feel it all. I leaned into the pain and found that it hurts but the reality of hiding would have stolen my life from me.
How many of us are hiding? I read this wonderful little book for my sons, ‘The First Book of Feminism,” and at the end, there is a tree. The little girls are all pulling each other up and it reads, “our job is to remember the women who came before us and pull those up behind us until all women are free.” I change the words and say, “people,” because all people deserve to be free. Free of abuse, trauma, neglect, hunger, pain, and the feeling you don’t have a choice to change your situation.
Yet there is so much in this world that is unavoidable that causes pain. We need to fix the problems we can to have the skills we need to navigate the pain we cannot avoid. Then, once we have fixed what hurts in us and learned how to navigate our own pain, we help others. When we are in pain others will then reach back and help us. It’s a cycle, the good kind.
Learning to Deal with Fear
How do we do this? How do we feel it all and survive it? One step at a damn time, that’s how.
At the core of taking these steps has to be the deep-rooted belief that you are enough and worthy. That there is absolutely nothing in the world that can make you more or less worthy. Not a purchase, not a status, not a salary, not a relationship, not what others think of you; nothing. You are not broken, you are gorgeously whole. But if you are chasing the wrong dreams the world will let you know it through your suffering.
How do you know you are on the wrong path? Ask yourself this, “Do I feel like me? Is this what I want to do?” Then really listen to yourself. I am not talking about trying on an outfit and asking yourself, “Is this me?” I am talking about really digging into your gut and taking a hard look in the mirror and asking yourself if you are at home with you. If the answer is yes, rock on, and please teach us because we need you. If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” commit to yourself today to be you. Start overturning the leaves, the dark shadows, and learn to feel.
Taking a Real Look at Yourself
It is much easier to numb out and stay away from our feelings. I am an excellent online shopper, ice cream eater, workaholic, and stress cleaner. I used to be a great wine drinker too. I know how to avoid my feelings easily and I know point-blank when I am lost. If you are moving through your world to keep yourself occupied and comfortable stop. Really, stop. It’s killing the brightness inside of you.
Make a list, take an inventory, and as you step into a fresh day ask yourself what hurts and why? Why am I drinking? Why am I eating? Why am I online? Who am I trying to impress? Asking ourselves why we do what we do and if we like it creates a space once we stop doing it. That space is boredom and discomfort and opens us up to ask ourselves the hard questions and begin to feel. We need this space void of the world’s impressions to make our own.
This sacred space of discomfort is where we begin to be made whole because it is where we shed what does not serve us. We just have to be brave enough to go there and get to know the person inside of the hurt. This past fall my son Henry was brushing his teeth and said these words to me:
“Mama you are brave.”
“Yea, you’re just a person.”
My little prophet. I am just a person and so are you. A person who deserves to live the life you were born to live so the world can be a more kind, just, loving place. Know your worth, give your gifts.
Photo credit: Jennifer O’Leary