There are a few ‘Brene Brownisms’ in this piece. If you’re not familiar with her transformational work, pop on over to www.BreneBrown.com
I’ve never been one to avoid a difficult conversation – as long as I didn’t have to speak about it.
My written voice has been my chosen vehicle of courage, able to swiftly carry me to places that I would generally steer clear of, face to face.
And it’s not that I haven’t alluded to my personal struggles (I have), but I’ve always been careful not to go too deep – for fear of being an annoying over-sharer, lacking professional credibility or because of that other excruciating emotion, SHAME.
But things change. I’ve observed, time and time again, that my experiences are far from unique.
Depression, anxiety, grief, loss, stress, crises – they happen to all of us at some point in time and what I’ve learned is suffering can be just as powerful a teacher as any other.
With a grateful heart, I’m now able to love myself through the process of owning my story.
How depression, anxiety (and other tough stuff) lead me to a beautiful life.
Here’s what I’ve learned and witnessed, in the lives of the dozens of brave women I’ve worked with along the way:
There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad – it’s just the way things are sometimes.
There will be times in life where you are barely hanging on and times when you are confidently gliding.
Resistance is natural and also, futile! You will rally against it with all your might, try to strategize your way out of it, and then realise that you just don’t have all the answers. (And that’s ok).
You’ll slowly open yourself up to the experience and in doing so, inadvertently create space for all of those feelings to surface and be released.
This is the beginning of your healing.
Awareness is a powerful ally.
Becoming a curious observer of your own thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behaviour, and viewing them as opportunities to understand ourselves better (rather than attack ourselves), is the fast track to awareness.
And with awareness comes perspective and knowledge. You figure out what you can do next time.
You will learn to feel your emotions rather than avoid and suppress (most of the time).
Feeling uncomfortable emotions is…well, it’s uncomfortable! It’s also the worst thing that can happen to you.
Learning to stay in your body, rather than follow an endless trail of bleak mind games, is a practice worth developing.
Being able to connect to your wiser self and remain in control, even when your emotions are running ragged? Also worth practicing.
Explore what’s possible, when you can learn to feel your feelings and acknowledge that this is just one moment in time and not your permanent state.
Self care is never going out of fashion…
When darkness descends, sometimes all you can do is go through the motions. This is where a self care plan becomes your mental health care plan.
If you can continue to paying attention to the basics (your diet, moving your body, getting adequate sleep), you’ll be able to transition through tough times faster.
I’ve also found that creating a pleasure list and ensuring you do just one thing every day to fill your reserves, can make all the difference in how you show up in the world.
Neither is self-compassion
Wrapping yourself up in sweetness and understanding when it all feels too much? That’s self compassion and it works!
Life already beats us up, so why do it to yourself?
A negative mind has the capacity to create utter misery but the way you treat yourself when you’re feeling wretched will determine how quickly you bounce back.
Resilience is more than just bouncing back, it’s a practice of transforming.
When you are provided with so many opportunities to experience that fight or flight tendency, eventually you learn that you have a choice.
The ability to get up and begin again at any given moment leads to a profound sense of knowing that no matter what, you’re going to be ok.
How many times have you proved that to yourself already?
You’re not supposed to do this alone.
Self-reliance and self trust are wonderful attributes to cultivate, but human beings are wired for connection at a biological level. We’re not supposed to do this alone.
It takes a lot of daring to open up to those around us when we are bought to our knees in pain, but we can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability first.
What if, in reaching out for the support we so desperately desire, we are also opening up the possibility for others to do the same? Isn’t that a gift for all of us?
Support can come to us in the most beautiful, unexpected ways when we learn to reach out, but first, we must reach out.
Wholehearted living begins the moment you decide to become your own best friend.
Being a human-being can be bloody tough! But isn’t it also astounding? The capacity we have for joy and love? The ability we have to work through our crap and emerge, stronger and more capable and confident than ever?
I understand that there might be times when my depression will return. I still go through cycles where my heart races late at night with fearful thoughts of the unknown.
The difference is that I’m equally proficient at owning my truth, leaning into the experience, and trusting that my inner guidance will never fail me.
It’s so much easier to move closer to the life of your dreams when you have an innate confidence that says –
No matter what comes my way – I Will Rise.