5 Truths for Hard Times
Authenticity is not about being happy, it's about being real. When we're cut off from how we feel, our emotional landscape looks like a flat heart monitor. When we start getting in touch with our real-time experiences, that heart monitor springs back to life.The good news is that when we start being authentic with ourselves, we allow ourselves to feel our positive emotions more keenly. Whereas we only experienced a flatline before, we now have many glorious spikes of happiness, joy and gratitude pinging all over the place.The not-so-good news is that we open ourselves up to feeling those not-so-comfortable emotions more keenly as well. When we look at our emotional monitor, we'll see some dips in there too.Even when we're living a life that is 100% true to ourselves, shit happens. Sometimes, we probably could have stopped it, and other times it's not personal: situations or events rise that are out of our control, or we just wake up on the wrong side of bed.When that happens, it ain't pretty. Here are five truths that can help soften hard times:
1. Congratulations, you're having an authentic emotional experience
This might be a cold comfort, but take heart from the fact that if you're feeling down, then you're feeling, and that's important. Remember, all our emotions are here to tell us something. They're rich with information from the past and the present. If you're allowing yourself to feel the lows, you're also opening yourself up to feel higher highs too. They will come.
2. All feelings are transitory
Highs and lows baby. We ride the wave, and then we tumble off the surfboard. Feelings are not states, they're a process. That means they're in constant flux and are transitory at their core. True, some feelings hang around for longer than others, but that's OK. They all move on at some point.When we're in the middle of a low period, it can sometimes start to feel like it's not going to end. We fear being trapped in this discomfort zone forever - I know I certainly have. But eventually it lifts. Sometimes it happens slowly, and sometimes it's so imperceptible that we don't realise we've shifted until after the fact. But it happens.
3. We are not our feelings
This might sound like semantics, but it's important. When we think or say things to ourselves like "I am sad" or "I am angry" or "I am lonely", we are far more likely to self-identify with those feelings. That in turn can transform them into self-fulfilling prophecies. When we think "I am a sad person", "I am an angry person" or "I am a lonely person", then we are far more likely to be a sad, angry or lonely person.A more accurate way of describing it is to say "I feel sad", "I feel angry" or "I feel lonely". Remember, all feelings are transitory, so they don't define us. When we use "I feel..." instead of "I am...", we're still acknowledging the feeling, but we're not labelling ourselves in the process.
4. It's OK to ask for help
Just because feelings are transitory, don't define us as people, and are sometimes caused by factors beyond our control doesn't mean the experience doesn't suck while it's happening. Some people say they love feelings like anger, sadness and overwhelm because it's a character-building experience, etc.I am not one of these people.I can accept these feelings, I can learn from them... but do I like feeling them? No way!That's why it is stupendously helpful to talk about it and ask other people for support. Our feelings and our experience are important, and it's a crucial part of self-care to reach out and ask people for empathy and understanding when we need those things.
5. We are more than capable of seeing ourselves through every situation
One of the things that drew me to the Person-Centred counselling approach was its unbounded enthusiasm for, and belief in, every individual's potential for self-knowledge and actualisation.It's that same philosophy that draws me to coaching too: given the right environment and the right mindset, we can achieve whatever we want, and how awesome is that? Even though we might not always feel like we have the internal strength, the balls or the willpower to get through a situation, we are perfectly capable of doing so.That doesn't mean that we don't need a little help along the way - support is an important part of meeting our needs - but all of us have everything we need to live the life we want - and that includes you too.What do you think of these truths? Would you add any of your own? Leave a comment and let me know.Photo Credit: The Sean & Lauren Spectacular via Compfight cc