More on Forgiveness: When We’re Our Own Worst Enemy

Forgiveness. This is not an easy topic. And if you’re anything like I am, nothing gets past your ruthlessly critical eye. Especially your own doings. This has been the case for me for a very long time. Something I’m just now learning to tamp down. But it took some doing to even recognize how unforgiving I was. Also, how the people I chose to surround myself with shared my sense of self righteousness. I cringe a little, thinking back on how I was acting with those around me following suit.

But things have changed for me for sure. I’ve given up many of the old beliefs that were holding me back. I’m no longer the “score keeper” I once was and I’m more willing now to let things go. But if we’re being honest, that was never my intention. My goal was to be kinder, not as mean or petty as I once was. But there in lies the catch. In trying to whip myself into shape, to be kinder, more forgiving, I was unwilling to forgive myself for the ways I was behaving. So I needed to learn to extend a little of that forgiveness inward, before I could be kind and forgiving outwardly.

Forgiveness Starts with Yourself

This is so rote, so cliché that it should be a no brainer. But I feel as though each family, or person has to learn this anew each generation. I know from my experience that forgiveness was something that was held just out of reach from me by my family. And to be fair, I don’t know that any of us felt as though we were even worthy of being forgiven. We carried with us such an air of feeling as though we weren’t enough, no matter what we were doing, that it just didn’t register that we could be forgiven.

Knowing What Forgiveness Feels Like

So instead of trying to practice a little forgiveness, we chose to cover over our unworthy feeling selves. We did this with our holier than thou attitudes. This however, did little in the way of making us feel better about ourselves.

As a result, we all had very low self esteem. We were lonely as well. Mostly because we were pushing everybody away but, also due to us feeling as though we were the only ones feeling that we didn’t deserve forgiveness or kindness. We were trying to be perfect to avoid the critical judgements of each other, while holding everyone to the impossible standards we had created for ourselves. This was a dangerous combination.

The result? Not to my complete lack of surprise, we didn’t know what forgiveness felt like. We were so busy holding it back from each other, that we held it back from ourselves a well. And in the process, forgotten what it had felt like. However there was, for me, a lot of free floating anxiety and fear. Mostly of not feeling accepted by others. Or feeling loved and belonging. Like I said, it was lonely.

Holding Back

What’s so strange about this experience was, that I could actually feel myself unwilling to let go. I could feel myself withholding love and forgiveness from myself. It feels like when you see a small child throwing a tantrum because they are told to stop doing something against their will. And that’s what made this feeling so difficult to manage. Because there was also a feeling of contempt for the part of me that was withholding forgiveness.

The part that I feel should have known better. The part that should know that I’m only hurting myself. But then how should I have known if it was the only way I knew how to relate to my ability to forgive? I wasn’t taught another way. So I continued to hold back my ability to forgive myself.

Realizing Something is Off

It wasn’t until very recently that I put the pieces together of what I was doing and the effect it was having on me. I noticed when I was speaking to someone about how unreasonable my standards are and how I didn’t want to go back to my old ways of being. Then she said something to me that made me physically feel well, cared for. She asked me, “have you forgiven yourself for the ways you used to be?”

The answer to that question was most definitely a NO. And to be asked that, to directly recognize that I was treating myself as unforgivable, a criminal, was eye opening. A feeling of being relaxed, full, washed over me from head to toe. As though I had been waiting for a person to ask me just that for a very long time.

And finally, I turned my attention to that place. The place that had been treated as though it were volatile. But I couldn’t have done this all at once and without a little prep work. The years of self-care I have been practicing, paved the road for me to be comfortable enough to open up as I did.

Listening to Ourselves & Taking Good Care

Here was where I was able to listen to myself with a different kind of focus. I had been listening inwardly for a while now as part of my self-care routine. But now I’m able to differentiate between the parts of me that need my attention. Now I’m able to respond with more patience and know what I need.

Now I know that the part of me that was holding back was doing so because my love and forgiveness have been so abused in the past. I am scared to be open and loving enough, to forgive. Because then I’ll be wide open to the ruthless critical judgements I’ve been so used to from the past. Including from myself.

The feelings of being turned on by those who are supposed to love me. Supposed to be there for me and show me care. I could be left again, as I had been so many times in the past.

Reparenting Our Wounded Parts

And it’s here where the work really begins. We need to guide those parts of us we had trained to turn their backs on us and others to show forgiveness and love again. Even in the face of inevitable pain. Our wounds will be opened again. That’s an unavoidable part of life. But it shouldn’t stop us from living and loving fully. This is the part I keep getting stuck on. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

It feels crazy to open up again after so much abuse. Abuse of trust mostly. And of not being able to rely on others to take care of us when we’re at our lowest. But it’s a part of being connected. For me, I had to open up slowly. I was so confused as to what trust and love meant, that I was guarded all the time. Not knowing when the other would finally turn on me. Because in my experience, it was a matter of when, not if.

So I started small. Really small. After I set up a safe and cozy place that I could use as a retreat, I started venturing out into what had been historically unsafe territory.

Sitting With Those Who Hurt Me

I moved in with my father after my last relationship ended. It was the best thing that could have happened for me at the time. I needed the time and space to put my life back together after the mess I had made of it. It was pretty bad. I alienated almost all of my friends, wound up about 115k in debt, with no plans for my future and no idea how to move myself forward in life. I was a drift.

But while I was licking my wounds, I was spending more time with those who had hurt and abandoned me in the past. I was spending time in physical proximity to them. Even if it was just watching T.V. together. For half hour increments, I was slowly getting used to the old feelings that were arising while just experiencing their nearness. And it was tough at times.

I remember dissociating a few times just sitting on the couch watching a show. This was how badly my trust and emotions had been abused. I felt unsafe in the safest possible environment. I’m in an affluent neighborhood, surrounded by (now) loving and caring parents, no concern for food or shelter, surrounded by a network of caring and loving support, financially stable and genuinely cared for. It couldn’t have been any safer for me.

But there were those parts of me that still remembered what the pain felt like. It was here that I needed to turn my listening ear towards.

Knowing When to Take Space for Yourself

And I needed to listen inwardly. I had no idea that there was an entire world inside of me that had gone unnoticed for as long as I can remember. Numbing it out with the drinking and the medication. The mean natured opinions I would dispense towards anybody who would listen. Anything I could use to quell my inner emotional world, I would use to numb.

So when I started practicing self-care, I begun to slowly learn that I could be kind enough to treat myself with respect. This was also a slow process and one that needed time and space apart from those around me. Because there’s a part of all of us, who wants to feel a part of something. Some belonging. But in the process of seeking that belonging externally, if we’re not strong enough in ourselves, we can drown out the inner voice that so desperately needs our caring and loving attention.

This is where taking space, along with practicing self-care, paid off. My safe and cozy place acted as a center for me to come home to. To feel at ease just being. The clean atmosphere, the ambient lighting and the refreshing scents, all coming together with gentle music playing, creating a sense of ease. Safety. It was here that I found a way to listen to myself. Slowly and with care.

Releasing the Expectations

This is also a place without expectations. A place where I can allow myself the space to explore what my needs are. To slow down and repair some of what has been damaged by the missteps of my past misguided self. A place to heal, and to quote a Peter Bjorn and John song, a place where “I am more me”.

Growing up I had nothing but expectation after expectation piled on top of me. First from my family but then by my peer group. It seemed a never ending stream of rules dispensed to hammer me into something that was acceptable to others. Not true to who I actually am.

And who I am is a sensitive man who feels deeply. I’m a hopeless romantic and lover of music that’s a little on the lighter side. I’ve been listening to Mree a lot lately. The antithesis of how I was raised to be “manly”. I do still appreciate some things from the past. But I wouldn’t say that they define me. And I feel that this is an important distinction to make.

Be More You

Because we all have a version of ourselves that is the truest form of ourself. I know I do. And I’m uncovering a little more of it everyday. It’s strange at times. Scary too. But there are also tender moments mixed in with crests of excitement. A journey worth the taking to be sure. But a journey that starts with letting ourselves be fully us and that starts with letting go of the past. Forgiving ourselves and moving forward.

So if you’ve been on the edge of letting go of the past, let this be your permission to let go. Forgive yourself and move on to the next challenge. There’s too many possibilities to explore that we won’t be able to if we’re dragging the past around with us. Don’t worry what others will think. They’ll come around or they won’t. What’s most important is, to be there for yourself. Peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “forgiveness” by cheerfulmonk is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

When Enough is Enough? How to Navigate the World of Unreasonably High Standards

High standards are something I’ve struggled with for almost my entire life. As soon as I knew what it meant to do a “good job”, I knew almost immediately afterwards what it felt like to not add up in some way.

Not Adding Up

What’s strange, thinking about it now is, I don’t really remember how I didn’t meet the mark. I only knew that I never met it. One example is, I remember doing chores when I was younger. I would vacuum the downstairs carpets, wash the woodwork around the base of the floors and dust the furniture for a small allowance every week. The chores started shortly after I experienced trauma that would change the course of my life. Adding another layer of impossible expectations to my already daunting list. But what I don’t remember is, being shown or told how to do them. Or if I was doing an adequate job.

The same was the case for school work. I remember before I gave up on school completely in the tenth grade, I was doing projects and homework, though always on my own. Of course I was alone almost all the time. So this wasn’t anything new. But what I hadn’t realized at the time was, that my situation was not normal. At some point it seems like there should have been someone there to help catch me. Before I fell through the cracks. But this just wasn’t the case for me.

When High Standards Turn Impossible

And what’s more is, I was consistently criticized for the “poor” work that I was doing. Thinking about it now, from the perspective of a functioning adult, I can see how maddening the whole situation was for a child to try to comprehend. Not only from the perspective of my younger self, trying to navigate life and discovering how I fit in with the whole, concerning other’s expectations of me. But also the fully actualized perspective of my adult self. I was just being asked too much of. From people and caregivers that had not only high standards, but impossible ones to meet.

Asking me to meet their standards would be akin to asking a seven year-old to shop and cook for themselves for the week. Also while staying in budget and hitting their nutritional necessities. Impossible. Having high standards can be a good thing, but taken too far and it can create a lot of fear and anxiety.

A Different Type of Standard

Later, I was however, excelling at meeting other of my caregivers standards. The ones where I would drink until I was so sick, I’d be hungover for two days. Or being judgmental and cruel for no other reason than to fit in with the ways my caregivers where acting. Thinking back now, I would have much rather have studied and done well in school. But when your very belonging is on the line, with the people that are supposed to love you no matter what, you’re going to do whatever you can, to feel a sense of love and belonging. Including trying to live up to not only impossible standards, but contradicting ones as well.

Because if you don’t feel like you belong, you don’t feel safe. And that’s when your survival instincts kick in. For me it was studying my caregivers like a detective, to try to read their minds of what it was that they could possible want from me. So I could meet their high standards and feel safety in belonging with them. I was also experiencing a fair amount of abuse from them as well. This added an extra layer of confusion. But when you’re in survival mode, nothing else really matters. Even the abuse.

These experiences were the foundation of the high standards that I in turn, adopted from my caregivers. I later, would set the standards so high for myself, that I was left paralyzed by not knowing how to move past not being perfect. If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth the effort. This was my distorted view of how I learned to navigate what was expected from me. And what’s worse is, I really believed that perfection was something that was obtainable! This blows my mind to think about now. I was trying to achieve something that just doesn’t exist while tearing myself apart in the process. No bueno.

Cultural Messages of High Standards

And it wasn’t just me. I was being told this impossible standard was possible not only by my caregivers, but by the culture as well. I remember vividly sitting in an empty room with a desk I bought from some expensive retailer, with a decanter of whiskey and a few glasses next to it, thinking to myself, “just a few more pieces of furniture, the right body and clothes, then I’ll be who I want to be.” There was a sinister air about this affirmation. One that I associated with success. Only in a way that was measured against someone else’s expectations. This was one of the ways I became my own abuser. By setting my self worth at something that was outside of myself and unobtainable.

So setting the standards too high I discovered, was really an act of abuse. Trying to achieve something I never could all to gain acceptance from people who couldn’t accept me because they didn’t accept themselves. This was punishing. And to add to the confusion, I didn’t even know what I was doing to myself. So if it was the high standards I was pitting myself against, how did I wake up and realize that I was never going to meet it?

The Need to Listen Inwardly

I think I’m still finding out what it means to be happy with my efforts and self as I am. But I know it has a lot to do with listening inwardly. Knowing how I’m feeling and sitting with the uncomfortable feelings, instead of trying to push past them when it feels like too much. Which raises the question, if I’m pushing myself too hard, are these really reasonable standards I’m asking myself to meet?

When all you have are critical judgements placed on you, it’s difficult to understand what a reasonable request is. Or when we’re needing for something to ease up inside of us. Our internal voice becomes mute and we take on the harsh critic that we are so used to. We may also seek out others to fill this role. The one of harsh critic that we are so used to trying to satisfy. For me, it manifested in many of the jobs I took.

Reliving Cycles of the Ways We’re Used to Being Treated

I didn’t know what my own self worth was, or the value of the work I was doing. For example, my current employer is very vocal about his high expectations and how nobody ever meets them. I’ve been there for about a year and a half, and I don’t believe I’ve heard them compliment anybody for a job well done.

This is a difficult place to work. But in my case, it’s one I was looking for, because it is something that I’m used to. Something I know well because I grew up under these conditions of unmet high standards. Cold comfort. I already knew how to navigate this world. The sense of superiority and indignation that came with thinking and feeling somebody else is inept because they are asking me to reach unachievably high standards. And to add insult to injury, I set the standard too high already. I would often think, “because they’re not meeting my standards they are inferior”. In other words, “you think your standards are high? I’ll show you high standards!” This is unhealthy.

But it’s how I kept myself at a distance from those I would have liked to have built healthy relationships with. Not only that, but I was constantly disappointed, a little angry, ok, maybe a lot angry and never happy or satisfied with anything or anyone around me. While also burning bridges with people every chance I got. It was a very lonely place to be. And I’m honestly very surprised that the few friends I have now, stayed by my side.

Learning to Let Go the High Standards

For me, there was and is a lot to sort through. As I said above, the first and most important step towards releasing the high standards we place on ourselves is, listening inwardly when we find ourselves frustrated with ourselves. Where are the places in our daily lives that we get frustrated and disappointed? How are we feeling and what are we expecting from ourselves and others when we feel these ways?

When the critic comes forward in my day to day, it is usually coupled with a sense of indignation. Most of the time I’m judging someone as selfish or insensitive and possibly inept. All because they ignored the ways I expected them to act or respond to a situation. This is dangerous because; I’m measuring them up against a standard that they have no idea what is being expected of them, they’re not mind readers and I’m also expecting events to unfold the ways I think they should. This shows that I’m unwilling to change my thinking and that I think my methods are the best methods for accomplishing any task. This type of reasoning and thought train leads to black and white thinking. And I’m also isolating myself from others by feeling consistently disappointed in others.

Breaking the cycle of High Standards & Condensation: Listening

To break this cycle, I have to be aware of my feelings, emotions and expectations while I interact with others. When I begin to feel frustrated, I need to make sure to focus on what is happening in the moment. I do this by acknowledging my emotion, clearing my mind of thoughts and ask myself, “where is this frustration coming from?” In some cases, there is a clear connection between my frustrations and what is happening in the moment. For example, while at work, if I’m expecting support from someone and I am left with little understanding on how to proceed with a task, or what their expectations are, this is a frustration worth exploring with the other person.

But it is important to not take that frustration and discharge it onto the person you are experiencing the frustration with. Or anyone or thing else. This is where many of us get tripped up. I know it was a sticking point for me for a long time. It’s important to feel the frustration, but then respond to the emotion inside yourself first. You can do this by asking it, why it’s here, or what am I trying to tell myself?

I know for me if I feel like I’m not being listened to or I’m not meeting the mark in some way, that can trigger some old emotions around family that are pretty charged. And if I’m not careful, that emotion can become destructive. So slowing down enough to listen to where the emotion is coming from and what it is trying to tell you is the first step to responding in a constructive way.

Breaking the cycle of High Standards & Condensation: Exploring Your Feelings

Then you can understand the emotion in how it is effecting you. Is this a situation that deserves this level of concern? Am I being too demanding of the other person? Is this a reasonable expectation that I am setting for another, or myself to meet? These are some of the questions that we can begin to explore when we aren’t so caught up in the initial reaction to the situation. And there will be times that you will need to respond in immediate ways with authority. But having this time to assess the needs for the situation, could mean the difference between a situation handled with care or hurt feelings.

Breaking the cycle of High Standards & Condensation: Take Action & Calming Ourselves

After we explore where the emotions are coming from and what they are trying to tell us, then we can take the appropriate actions and begin the process of calming ourselves down. It doesn’t help any situation to react from a place of anger and frustration. Especially where high standards are involved. This is where self soothing comes into the process and is an important part of communicating from a constructive place. Self soothing can help us to feel heard and taken care of. And coming from a place of knowing that our emotional response to a situation is valid, is important to us feeling as though we matter. In that we are part of the solution and not just collateral damage to a person’s feelings.

This is the power of self soothing and how it can help us communicate and be fully present with ourselves and others. We gain a sense of agency and confidence when we’re calm. And we’re better able to handle what the situation demands of us. Also how to respond to someone’s unreasonable expectations. And this isn’t a guaranty that you will get the support or help you need.

For instance, my above example of not feeling or being supported or if I’m meeting my employer’s expectations. I may calm down and recognize why I am feeling this way and then be able to communicate them from a clear and rational space. Instead of expecting them to read my mind. But there is no way of knowing whether I’ll receive the needed support from those I ask.

Not Taking it Personally

The difference between understanding where your emotions are coming from and then knowing how to best respond to them, instead of getting angry at the person or situation is, you don’t take it so personal. You’ve assessed the situation and have done as much as you’re able to do. After you’ve done the work, it’s a matter of waiting for something outside of yourself to change for you to move forward. But this takes patients.

First with yourself. This is where sitting with difficult emotions comes into the picture. Especially those around feeling like we’re not meeting others’ expectations. And we will do just about anything we can think of to push past or numb that type of discomfort. For me it was drinking coffee to push past them, and alcohol at night to numb them. But other common modalities include, watching T.V., cleaning or constantly staying in motion. Reading or constantly having your nose in a book, or checking social media or flipping through your phone or some other device obsessively. Another one is ruminating or obsessing over something. Also thinking of how unfair the other person’s standards are and ways that you would right the situation if it was up to you.

What all these methods of dealing with stress have in common is, that we are trying to push past the discomfort of sitting in the emotion of feeling whatever is causing the discomfort. In my example, the discomfort is not feeling supported by those who I am supposed to rely on for help by never meeting their high standards. This leaves me feeling underappreciated and slightly taken advantage of. These are the difficult emotions that need my attention and that I need to reconcile inside myself first.

Being Patient

Second, we need to have patience with those who we are in conflict with. This is also difficult. And impossible if you haven’t found patience with yourself first. It helps if you or the other person are able to see different points of view or perspectives. But this isn’t always accessible when we’re trying to help others to understand where we are coming from.

Unfortunately, this is where a lot of arguments begin. Misunderstanding another’s perspective can feel like, to the other, that you’re not listening to their point of view. So it also helps to add a healthy dose of kindness into the conversation. To help set the tone for an understanding mindset and defuse some of the tension that can arise in these types of conversations. Especially where unrealistically high expectations are involved.

Owning What’s Yours

And even with all these precautions, sometimes people will just disagree. It’s especially important in these situations to not take it personal. This was a tough lesson for me to learn, due to being raised in an environment where everything was taken personal. Regardless of the person’s actual intentions. My caregivers never took responsibility for the ways they were feeling. Or how they responded to their feelings or the feelings of others. “Somebody made me feel this way” or “you made me do this” were statements I heard often in my youth.

Looking back, it’s no wonder I had so many issues with boundaries around whose feelings were whose. I was just never taught how to own a feeling. Or how to set healthy boundaries around them. Add being unable to live up to high standards on top of that, it’s enough to make somebody mad.

For me, the process of creating these boundaries worked to help me understand what my responsibilities are. What healthy expectations look like as well. Also, what feelings were mine. I did this by simply labeling the feelings that were coming up in me as they were happening and then connecting them to an event while also telling myself that my best was good enough. The more I did this the clearer it became why I was reacting to what was coming up for me.

Positive Reinforcement

So labeling emotions as they happen, followed by sitting with them through the discomfort and reminding yourself that your best is good enough, can help to loosen the grip. The one that takes hold of you when you’re trying to push yourself too hard to meet high expectations from yourself or others.

And it takes practice. LOTS of practice. As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve been dealing with these high standards for most of my life. Starting in childhood! They don’t go away overnight. But the good news is that they do lessen over time. Practicing forgiveness is another way to help soften the edges of our unreasonably high standards. In my daily affirmation, I tell myself, “I’m strong, brave, courageous and forgiving… it’s okay to be me, just as I am”. This helps me to gain a bit of much needed perspective. It allows me to put some distance between the expectation and the emotions that come along with them. Long enough to practice some self-care and reality check what I’m expecting from myself.

I feel better knowing that I’m looking out for my best interests, while stopping myself from tearing myself down for trying to reach an impossible goal. And the more often I do this, the more trust I gain in myself. So if you struggle with impossibly high standards, just know that there are ways of easing up on yourself and letting go. You just need to be persistent and kind to yourself. Thanks for reading : ) peace.

Image Credits: “Impossible standards just make life difficult. #fortunecookie” by dziner is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Updated: 9/23/22

Knowing How to Attune to Our Feeling Selves

I grew up in a family that never spoke about their feelings or how to attune to them. That’s not hyperbole. We never spoke about anything really. But feelings were especially taboo. If you view emotions as a language to convey and communicate needs, we were deaf and mute. It has taken me decades, fumbling around with and trying to understand this language. Something that had eluded me and my caregivers for so long. So now that I’ve grasped the basics of my emotional language, I’m coming to understand how knowing how to attune to our emotional selves and connecting with my emotional states, are intertwined with self-care.

Self-Care and Our Emotions

For some (hopefully most), this is not new news. Knowing how you’re feeling at any given time and then being able to respond appropriately in the moment to your emotions hopefully comes as second nature to you. But if you’ve experienced trauma and you’ve disconnected from your emotions and body, then reconnecting is no easy task. Even if you haven’t experienced trauma, but have been under chronic stress. Then attunement can be a chore as well. So how do we begin the work of reconnecting to our emotional bodies? So we can better attune to our needs and foster the emotional space necessary for self-care? For me it started with finding patience.

Be Patient

I remember the day clearly that I found the emotional space to hold difficult emotions without reacting to the discomfort I was feeling. I was waiting for a woman who I loved and we were running late for something. A situation that would normally invoke irritation in me. But I found the space to let the emotion be, while focusing on how I really felt about the person. The love that was at the core of our bond and not the irritation that was transient. And it’s important to note that the irritation was still there. Only it wasn’t stronger than the feelings of love and patience. If we’ve been brought up in families where we feel like a burden, or we’ve been neglected, we can internalize those as signs of there being something wrong with us. And if we’re not told and reinforced that we are loved and belong, then when the people who are supposed to show us love are instead filled with contempt, we may take on that contempt and aim it inwardly. Usually towards the places we feel are “unlovable”. Because if we didn’t have these “unlovable” places, we would be loved.

Forgetting Who I Am

This was how I lost track of who I was on an emotional level. With so much neglect and contempt, I was constantly looking for a way to feel part of and accepted by my family. I took everything personally because I didn’t know how to draw clear boundaries between my emotions and those of my caregivers. Because I felt so much of my belonging hinged on their approval. Their good or bad moods, the ones that I may or may not be responsible for. I was constantly in tune to them. Even their slightest of shifts could fill me with fear. But along the way I learned to stop listening to my own wants and needs. For instance I didn’t really know how I was feeling most of the time. But I also didn’t even know if I was hungry or tired. I did learn how to push myself beyond my limits though. Mostly fueled by coffee, to keep me going during the day and beer to slow me down at night. This was how I learned to ignore the most basic of my needs. To feel loved and belonging.

Learning to Listen, Learning to Attune

There was a lot of confusion and fear without a doubt. But it wasn’t hopeless. If it was the love of a woman that allowed me to understand how patience felt, it was meditation, yoga and running that helped me practice and foster a place for patience to grow in defiance of the fear. And it wasn’t easy. I had put off feeling a lot of my emotions. And when I sat down to learn how to feel again, they all came flooding back in. It was overwhelming for sure. But they needed to be felt. And there was a learning curve. Understanding how to let in a metered amount of emotion while learning what my limits are is something I’m still coming to understand.

Overcoming Our Barriers

Running and yoga helped me to understand how to push my boundaries and limits in a healthy way. To build resilience. The reason these methods were so helpful was because it was tough work being with my difficult emotions. Running and yoga mirrored the difficulty of being in a difficult emotional state. But it also gave me a sense of being physically capable of overcoming obstacles. Barriers that were holding me back from being wholly present in my body. Either during a difficult workout or sitting with a difficult emotion. And what’s more is, I was stronger after the effort. On the other side of my physical and emotional barriers. And it seemed insurmountable at times. But it was and is possible. And coming to terms with unfelt emotions doesn’t solely lay with those of us who have experienced trauma. In the day to day, so often we put off things that we see as being difficult. Talking with a friend or family member that have wronged us to some degree. Or apologizing to a coworker we may not like when we know we’ve been insensitive. Both examples of ways we avoid difficult emotions.

Practice and Be Forgiving

And the more we practice coming home to the space where we put unwanted feelings, what we’ve been avoiding, the more we show ourselves the patience and kindness that are necessary for self-care. Much like my workouts, the work you put in, is the resilience you receive. And what holds it all together is practice. Especially when it gets difficult. Those are the times where we need to double down, hold in just a little longer. And be forgiving if we don’t feel we’ve lived up to our standards. If you’re like me, you’ve probably set the bar too high to begin with! And it’s a practice anyways. We’re never really done with the work of living, so why beat ourselves up for not getting it “right”. Or just the way we want it? Practice kindness to yourself, be patient with yourself and forgive yourself and you’ll learn to attune to yourself. These are the tools I’ve found to be helpful to attune and reconnect with my emotional self. Thanks for reading, peace : ] Image Credits:“LISTEN” by elycefeliz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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