Getting past the pretending to discover gratitude

Written by Amie on December 16, 2011 – 5:41 pm -

“When we understand that the ability to live with any situation is not in what happens, but in our relationship to ourselves and our own minds, we are free. Absolutely, breathtakingly free.” ~ Geneen Roth

 

I seemingly “had everything I needed”

When I was feeling depressed and hopeless, gratitude was very difficult for me to even consider. I did not feel grateful for much during that time, even though I seemingly “had everything I needed”. It made me feel guilty when I couldn’t get to the feeling of being grateful for everything I had. I thought I should be the most grateful person in the world. I used this as just another way to beat myself up. I would tell myself things like, “you should be grateful, how can you not be grateful? You have such an easy life.” Now that I am on the other side of depression, it is clear to me the pattern I followed my whole life. I kept pretending everything was okay. The pattern was set early in my life. “You have everything you need, so don’t complain. Just smile and get on with it!” I did this for most of my life. I did the things others expected of me, and lived my life in pretend land.

“if you can’t be happy in this situation, what is wrong with you?

I had even convinced myself I was happy. Then reality hit. My heart and soul would no longer agree with the lies my mind was telling me. My heart and soul started getting louder than my mind. Something was way off. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. I tried to continue telling myself the lies that had worked up until this point. “You are so fortunate, you *should* be happy.” Then the voice of the judge took over to tell me how bad I was for wanting anything other than what I had, even happiness. “There is something terribly wrong with you if you can’t be happy in this situation, what is wrong with you?” On and on went the mean voices, trying to convince me *not to* explore any further. The mind does not like to be questioned. This is the ego, (or the “pain-body”, according to Eckhart Tolle) and it is very strong. Once I started questioning everything, my mind would try to push back against me, trying to convince me not to question my life. The mind (or ego, or pain-body) likes being comfortable; which means, “keep doing the same thing you have always done.” It really is like fighting a separate person for awhile. However, the more I kept questioning, the quieter and quieter my mind got. The more I questioned, the more I needed to process my feelings around the things I questioned. This doesn’t mean having to figure anything out. I just had to *feel* my feelings about the things that came up. There were times when I felt worse before I felt better, but slowly the mind started to quiet down.

don’t worry so much about “getting it right”

I sat down to write about gratitude today, so I am going to skip ahead to that now! I want you to know, I didn’t go from being completely depressed for years to suddenly feeling gratitude. I have written about my process in past posts, and will write about it in future ones. I know it can be very difficult to feel gratitude if you don’t love yourself. So, please be gentle on yourself if you are “trying” to feel gratitude but you don’t feel it is genuine. Just keep going through the exercise of thinking of things you *could possibly* be grateful for. Don’t worry so much about “getting it right”. There is no “right”. If something makes you feel good even for a split second, say to yourself, “I’m grateful for that”. Please, please, please don’t use this exercise as a way to beat yourself up. Everything in this process of waking up from depression is part of the journey. Nothing is right or wrong, it just “is”. So there is no need to try to do it right. Just be grateful for yourself in this moment, be grateful for your breath, be grateful that you can stand, or walk, or sit, or see….start with the seemingly “small” things that will at some point feel like the biggest, most important. Just say it and let it go…I’m grateful for…….the gift of……..YOU!

“fake it til you make it” 

The true feeling of gratitude will come in time. I now feel gratitude every single day. I really *feel* it in my body. I used to just say it, but not feel it. Now I feel it. I want to share with you what I do each day because it is so powerful in my life. In this case, I do agree with the “fake it til you make it” saying. I do think it is beneficial to find things to be grateful for each day, even if you can’t get to the feeling of it. Keep trying, but without judgment of yourself. So what if you can’t come up with anything except the blanket covering you right now. It’s all okay! One day, you will start feeling gratitude, and it will feel so good!

my process

Each day I sit down and write one whole page of what I am grateful for. I just make a list. Some days I have the same things as the day before, but I still write them out new each time. Some days I may have a completely new list. Some days I may have trouble coming up with a whole page, but I keep at it until I fill my page. And I always feel better when I finish. The other day I started writing the words, “I am grateful for, “the gift of” , instead of just writing the words, “I am grateful for”. I can’t believe the difference in how this felt in my body. Just adding the words “the gift of” made me feel even more grateful. It was amazing to me how different it felt to think in terms of receiving a gift. It was a new perspective to me. I feel surrounded by abundance. I receive so many gifts each day, every moment. Right now I am receiving the gift of connection, the gift of breath, the gift of sight, the gift of warmth, the gift of feeling vulnerable, the gift of the sweet taste of chocolate, etc etc. These are all gifts to be grateful for. I wanted to put this out there in case in helps you in your process. Let me know what you think!

***you are loved….you are perfect as you are…..I am grateful for the gift of your presence……all is well…..breathe…..receive the gift of yourself……you are love…..***

“Being Ourselves”

 

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Stop thinking, just *feel*; using movement to release emotions

Written by Amie on November 16, 2011 – 2:13 am -

Learn to become “the observer” of the one having the negative thoughts

I want to talk more about releasing emotions through body movement. Many people e-mailed to ask what this process looks like for me, so I thought it would be helpful to write about it here in case others have the same question. When I first started using movement to release emotions, I was pretty judgmental of myself. Even though I locked myself in a room and turned the lights down, I was still self-conscious. If I could go back and give myself encouragement, I would tell myself that the mean voices in my head are not true, and more importantly, they are not who I am. They are conditioned beliefs that have nothing to do with who I am. They are the dysfunctional messages passed on by dysfunctional people and systems. So, to begin with, using movement to release emotions is also a practice in meditation. By this I mean you must learn to become “the observer” of the one having the negative thoughts. Keep moving your body while just noticing the thoughts. Don’t buy into them. Remember you are *not* your thoughts, you are the watcher of your thoughts. There is a *very* big difference. It takes diligent practice to make this become real in our bodies. The more you remember it, the easier it gets. This is about becoming aware. Awareness of what you are telling yourself.

Stop thinking, and FEEL

I always know when I need to move. It is usually when I am “trying to process” some feelings that have come up. I know if I am thinking too much or trying to figure something out, it is better for me to start moving. I know the main thing to remember is to *feel*. When I stay with my thinking too much, it is usually because I don’t want to feel. This is a very common protective response. I internalized the message, “if I feel, it will hurt”. I know this is not a true statement any longer. Sure, there are painful emotions, no doubt. But, we hurt when we start telling ourselves stories *about* those feelings. Feelings and emotions are energy. If thinking didn’t exist, we would just notice sensations in our bodies when we have a reaction to something. It is the added stories we start telling ourselves that make the experience painful. We believe these stories. Again, this takes some “re-training” of the brain. Our brains are trained to react a certain way, and they will continue to do that unless we decide to change it. It takes practice.  When I start feeling restless and I am focusing too much on “why” or “how” or obsessing over a detail, I  *know*, or rather my body knows, it is time to move!

90 second rule

I want to share this from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book called My Stroke Of Insight (a great book, btw!). “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.

This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.”

Lock the door, light some candles, dim the lights, and shake shake shake!!!

Sounds like an interesting title, don’t you think?! That is a shortened version of  my routine. I must also mention that I have a punching bag which is sometimes part of my routine. I absolutely love it! It is so helpful when I am feeling strong anger in my body. The important thing is to always stay in touch with your body and your body sensations. I hold most of my emotions in my stomach. My stomach feels tight or it feels as though someone is squeezing it when I have strong emotions. . I hold my breath as well. Another learned response. Just wanted to point that out because it is very common to hold your breath when you are trying to hold back strong emotions. So, a reminder to breathe is always very important. Hanging reminders around the house is a great idea! Seems simple, but it is incredibly helpful! I use an iPod to move to. I have a very wide range of music. I almost always start with hip hop and very upbeat fast music. This may not work for some people, but it is what works for me. It is fun to experiment with different kinds of music to see what your body loves. Listen to your body, you will *feel* a difference when you like a certain type of music and when you don’t.

Stay in your body

I have noticed there are times when I just need to shake every body part. If my body feels tense and I feel as though I may explode with emotion, I shake each limb and each body part. I continue doing that until I feel the intensity lessen. Then I move move move. I usually move fast for at least 30 minutes, but do what feels right for you. After that, I move slower, more like the video in my last post. Honestly, it really depends on my body, so it is key to pay attention to your body, and to follow what it tells you. There have been numerous times when I just have to stop moving and allow myself to sob. This is a good thing! My body is releasing unprocessed, stuck emotions. Sometimes I go back and forth between dancing/moving and punching the punching bag. It feels so good! It is all about staying with yourself; staying in your body. Just feel the sensations, and breathe. It can be helpful to journal after moving if that feels good to you. Hopefully this was helpful. Please feel free to comment, ask more questions, or tell me about your practice. It is always helpful if we share with each other. I am grateful you are here reading, and I really hope this was helpful for you. Happy dancing and moving!!!! Also, if you want a guided body movement, I strongly recommend Gabrielle Roth’s song “Body Parts” on her CD called “Endless Wave”

 

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