Depression,loneliness,authenticity,and vulnerability

Written by Amie on February 19, 2012 – 3:53 pm -

naming the feeling of loneliness

I received an e-mail yesterday from someone asking me about loneliness. She told me she feels lonely even when she is surrounded by people who care about her. I told her I can totally relate to the feeling, and I also told her what a gift it is that she recognizes this part of herself. I remember so many times that I felt this way. It took me a very long time to figure out what was really behind the feeling of loneliness. Honestly, I didn’t know it was loneliness I was feeling. I knew the feeling felt really big inside me, but I wasn’t sure how to name it. At that time in my life, I had the habit of turning these feelings against myself. In other words, I had this big feeling inside me that I bundled all together with all of the “bad” feelings I was having, and called it depression.  I would tell myself there must be something *wrong with me* for feeling bad even when I had people in my life who loved me. How could I be around people who say they care about me and still feel depressed? The answer eluded me for quite awhile. Maybe the real situation was that I didn’t want to acknowledge my truth. If I were to actually name this feeling I was having (loneliness), I believed I would then have to act on it right away.  That isn’t true. The first step is always to acknowledge the feeling, and then allow yourself to feel it. Once you allow yourself to feel your emotions, a part of you will open up to new possibilities, and action will follow if that is what needs to happen.

I was dying inside, I felt so empty

It took me awhile to figure out, or acknowledge that I truly was feeling lonely. It also took me awhile to see the patterns I had set up in my life to support this loneliness. I am not being judgmental here, just stating what is true. Somewhere along the path in my life I learned that I needed to protect my sensitive spirit from people who had the potential to hurt me. When our true selves are not nurtured and supported starting from a young age, we learn other ways to be in the world as a way of protecting ourselves. I thought if I could keep myself from being vulnerable with another person, I was protecting  myself. I only allowed myself to go to a certain level of connection with people, and then I would put up my walls of protection. Nobody could get past those walls. It appeared as though I was sharing myself with others, but I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. I appeared strong and I appeared as though I had it all together. But I didn’t. I was dying inside. I felt so empty.

it has taken me almost 6 years to get to where I am today

With the help of a therapist, I finally came to see how lonely I was really feeling. I found a therapist who (after going through many therapists that I could never open up to) I felt safe with. It took awhile, but she was finally able to help me make a crack in my wall of protection. It was a slow, often painful process. My mind was like a steel trap. It did not want to budge. It has taken me almost 6 years to get to where I am today. That seems like a long time when there are promises out there telling us you can pop a pill to get relief without having to do the work of looking inside yourself. (I am not saying medication should never be taken, I tried that route myself) However, to put things into perspective, I remind myself that it took me much longer than 6 years to get to the breaking point of depression, so I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight. I had to rediscover the authentic person behind the wall of protection, and that takes work.

most people feel lonely because it is not “small talk” they are really wanting and needing

And…back to the issue of loneliness….I can see now that people who have a wall up around them are most likely feeling lonely most of the time. Most people feel lonely because it is not “small talk” they are really wanting and needing. Most of us settle for this because it is the norm. But on a deeper level, we want to feel connected to each other, we want to know what is really alive in the person we are talking with. We want to feel authenticity with each other. It is so sad that most people have been trained to ignore the real stuff, and go straight to the small talk. My first real connection with someone was my therapist. I know that may sound weird, but I don’t care! lol She was coming from a conscious healthy place, and I felt it.  I felt her authenticity, and I wanted more. From there I met a wonderful friend (at a book store!) who is so authentic with me. At first, it was scary because I didn’t trust that she could be real. I didn’t trust that she wouldn’t hurt me. But I hung in there, and I now call her my soul sister. I am also a part of a women’s spiritual growth group with like minded conscious women who are also seeking authenticity and truth. Another person who I relate to on a soul level is a friend I met years ago at a health food store! She is someone that I know connects with me at a very deep and authentic level.

the more I love myself, the more I bring people into my life that will mirror that love back to me

I feel so grateful for all of the people in my life right now who are real with me. I notice that the more I love myself, the more I bring people into my life that will mirror that love back to me. My kids have done this for me since the day they were born. Talk about authentic! To this day, they call me out on my old patterns. So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that if you are feeling depressed, ask yourself if you are lonely. Be as honest as you can be with yourself. Just admitting it but not putting pressure on yourself to do anything about it will help. Just allow yourself to feel the truth of what is there in your body. I would say to myself, “I am feeling really lonely right now”. Then I would tune in to what my body was feeling in that moment. Tightness in my stomach, almost always. Just stay with the feelings in your body. You don’t have to solve anything….just feel…..

 it’s time to fall in love..with yourself

The more you allow yourself to feel what is true for you, the more you will begin to crack open your wall of protection. What I am also saying here is that if you don’t have at least one person in your life you can be 100% real with, it is time to find one. Finding one will lead to finding another. I promise you there are people out there wanting the same thing you do. Authenticity. Vulnerability is a part of the process. People who are willing to be vulnerable, willing to show their human side, will attract others who want the same thing. People are lonely because they are guarded. We shut down our truth; our human side. The act of pretending to be happy, the act of going through the motions of being human, doesn’t cut it for very long. Many people are okay with living their lives like this. I am not one of those people anymore. If I would have continued down the pretending path for much longer, I most likely wouldn’t be here today. That is the truth. I need to be real, I need to be who I was born to be, I need people in my life who are willing to be real with me. I refuse to pretend. One more thing….actually a very important point…..once you start truly loving yourself unconditionally, you won’t feel lonely anymore. When you love yourself, you will stop looking for someone else to make you feel any certain way. Nobody can ever make you feel unconditional love for yourself. You need your love in order to be happy. You can start loving yourself right this minute by asking yourself what you honestly need right now. Being honest about it will start your path to self-love. We all crave authenticity and love and deep connection….so you really can’t truly feel these things unless you are madly in love with yourself!!! So, maybe it’s time to fall in love..with yourself! xo

And in the spirit of love….I have to put this song in here yet again…I just love it so much! :)

 

 

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Posted in Connection, Depression, Healing & personal growth, healing from depression, Nurture yourself, Self-love | 1 Comment »

How to nurture yourself to heal depression

Written by Amie on August 15, 2011 – 1:12 am -

The way to heal from depression is to honor your true voice

So many people are searching for ways to nurture themselves. So very sad that most people do not know how to do this. Most people are taught to think about everyone but themselves. Most people are taught to be concerned with what others think of them before being concerned about how they feel about themselves! People are conditioned to follow along with what “the authority” figures deem important. We have been conditioned to hide who we really are. The way to heal from depression is to honor your true voice. Let yourself be honest. Express how you really feel. Will this be easy after years of repressing and hiding your voice, your beliefs, your thoughts, your opinions, your truth? No, it just takes a lot of practice. Can you heal yourself from depression? Absolutely! But you have to be willing to show yourself. You have to practice facing your fear of being your true self. It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep practicing and you also practice compassion for yourself, you will transform your depression into self-love. You will soon be nurturing yourself because you listen to what your inner truth is telling you. Once you start listening to and acting on your truth, nurturing yourself is the result.

All of these things condition us to go against ourselves

Breaking free of the conditioning most people learn is the key to healing depression. Our world tells us we need to be perfect, be successful, be thin, be rich, be beautiful, be the same as everyone else, act happy, don’t feel emotion, hurry up, be nice, be who your parents want you to be, be who society wants you to be, don’t be angry, hide yourself, don’t trust yourself, listen to other people’s opinions of you, don’t listen to your inner voice, be afraid, listen to your fear, trust the authority even if it feels wrong to you….I could go on and on. None of these things are nurturing! All of these things condition us to go against ourselves. All of these things teach us to distrust our inner voice. These things are the reason why so many people are depressed! We have been conditioned to be afraid of showing the world our true inner beauty. Depression exists because our truth is locked in a box deep within. The harder we try to contain our truth, the angrier we feel. The more angry we feel, the harder we fight to try to contain our truth. The more we try to contain our truth, the more depressed we become. Depression gets deeper and deeper the longer the truth is hidden.

protect yourself by being “good”

It is not easy to say what you really want to say. This is especially true if you have been conditioned to believe you are somehow bad for stating your opinions or your needs. If, as a child, you were punished for needing anything, you learned to lock up your truth, and to hold in your thoughts and feelings. You learned that being “good” got you farther than expressing your truth did. It is fortunate that children have the built in ability to shut down parts of themselves in order to protect themselves. Emotions can be turned off, shut down. This happens for a reason. Humans are built to survive. This is a good thing. I learned to be thankful for my protective instincts. However, if you are an adult, you now have the ability to take care of yourself. You get to decide what is best for you, and who you will trust to be a part of your life. You no longer need these coping mechanisms that served you as a child. You are in charge of your life! This is great!

how to nurture yourself

So, I am back to the question of how to nurture yourself. I learned to nurture myself by listening to my inner voice, and then trying to follow it. I am still learning, but it is getting easier with practice. It takes so much practice! It is like learning a completely new skill. I am learning to have compassion for myself. I try to treat myself as I would treat a newborn baby or a very young child. I give myself a break when I revert back to my old habits. I allow myself time to sit and have a good cry. I honor the little girl in me who just wants to curl up and read a book. I listen to my body when it is telling me it needs to move. I get a massage to nurture my body. I feed my body foods that make it feel good. But, if I eat something that I know will make me feel bad afterward, I refrain from telling myself how bad I am. Instead, I say oops, maybe I won’t eat that next time. The key is to have compassion for yourself! Your inner judge has been abusive enough all of these years. Give yourself a break. Listen to what you tell yourself on a minute to minute basis. Write down what you say to yourself, and then apologize to your inner self. Become aware. The messages you are saying to yourself that are mean and judgmental are never true. It is all conditioning. Not of it is the truth. Remember that every single situation is neutral. It is the judgments and stories we tell ourselves that make them stressful.

You are love….you have the answers you need right inside you…..dig through the old lies and stories to re-discover the truth you were born with…..you are a beautiful soul…..you deserve to be here…..you deserve to feel joy every day……let go of the old stuff you have carried around for years…..question every single thing you tell yourself…..only keep it if you know it to be 100% true….that means you have to prove that it is true! Do something for yourself that feels good…right now….love…

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