Some old patterns or habits of mine are hard to break. And pattern awareness is where my energy is at at the moment.
I used to bite my fingernails. Like really bite them. Oh the gnawing my little nails took.
Since I was a kid I bit away. At school. In front of the TV. In the car. Shopping. Reading. No where was off limits. Even when I was nursing…(I know, it’s hard not to judge me on that one).
I tried “Stop and Grow”, I tried acrylic nails, I tried a rubber band around my wrist, which if that has ever worked for anyone, can you let me know…
Well into my adult years I was a biter. WELL into. Late 30’s WELL.
I don’t bite my nails now days. At all.
So what changed?
Honestly, I don’t really know.
I am pretty sure it has something to do with the fact somewhere along the way, someone said to me, “When you catch yourself biting your nails, ask yourself what are you feeling right in the moment”.
I started to do that. And while I am not sure that I could actually articulate what I was feeling, it brought this kind of present moment awareness to what I was doing. And as soon as I was present, I could make a choice.
To bite my nails or not to bite my nails.
I’ve read more self help books that is legal. If you have read any of my stuff you know that.
And there are so many tips and tricks with stuff. But of all the stuff that I have read, all the stuff I have listened to, I think these are the most prominent and maybe even life impacting insights.
Being present is game changing. Literally.
Nail biting, if you ask any psychologist has to do with anxiety. An uncomfortable feeling arises and instead of acknowledging it’s presence, we try to sooth ourselves with an activity. Some choose food, some choose alcohol, some choose social media, some choose television.
God damn it, I choose all of those.
Anyway, the whole point to these activities is to numb the discomfort. Or at the very least, to take the edge off. And sometimes the intent is to completely obliterate the feeling.
Patterns developed to avoid pain and discomfort. Developed at a young age, to illuminate threat and danger. The brain hard wired to seek safety and avoid pain and discomfort. Make sense right? I mean, who likes either of those things?
And it is because of our avoidance, we wind up feeling depressed and anxious and perhaps even experience a level of self hatred.
The cure I wonder isn’t simply being present. But while deeply engaging in the present moment, we can really observe how we are feeling, what we are thinking and who we are choosing to be in each moment.
And folks, this is a deep, deep practice. A practice that I hear most people say, who has time for that? Yet I wonder, do we have time not to?
Each habit, pattern and addiction is a call to bring us deeply into the areas that we are called to feel into.
To feel into the time you were left waiting for your dad to pick you up late from school when you were 8.
To feel into the time you found out your parents adopted you.
To feel into the time you yelled at your kids over something so stupid you wonder what kind of human you are.
All those times when we were human or suffered at the hand of another human. All the emotion that comes with each and every experience.
To think of it, I actually feel pretty overwhelmed. I mean, doesn’t it just make more sense to just hold it all in or meditate it away, or good person it away by earning approval and ‘doing; lots of good to make up for our flaws and to to avoid our inner discomfort?
Well my friend, after years of doing it that way, here is the truth.
Pushing those emotions down, each and every time a feeling presents….it is a shit habit of self abuse. For real. It is slow suicide. Each push down is like a little shot of poison. And the bigger the emotion, the bigger the shot glass…or bucket!
And no joke, it ends in death.
Death of relationships, of friendships, of jobs, of physical wellbeing. Dead. Snuffed out. Deceased. And while I am not adverse to the death of things (nature ya’ll), I do wonder if we could enjoy a lot more of the living if we stopped drinking the sweet poison of unprocessed feelings.
And no, I am not talking about walking around crying and pouring your heart out to everyone and everyone. No. I am talking about just being fucking honest with yourself.
They said something that hurt your feelings? You will only know that if you are completely present in the experience. Words are spoken. Emotion is felt. Thoughts begin. Own it. To yourself.
What am I feeling right now? Where am I feeling it right now? What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now? And proceed.
There is no emotion that you can feel that will kill you. But the repression, denial and rejection of emotion leads to blocked pathways and stopping the free flow of energy that desires to move.
This might seem like a big process, and for big emotions it might be. It might be that you need a support person to help hold the weight of the emotion with you, to help you work through it.
Here is something that I work with at the moment. And am practicing. It is something I can literally do while I am walking, or sitting outside, or sitting in the car or in a shopping centre:
~ Breathe to get present.
~ Allow space for your emotions to show up.
~ What am I feeling?
~ Where am I feeling it?
~ Where does the feeling want to move to?
~ Can you open up to experience the full flow of the energy and let it move?
~ What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?
So. I’m in the car! In the car and I get cut off.
First reaction. WTF?
Ok Jen. 3 deep breaths to get present. Follow the breath. Feel the steering wheel in your hands. Hear the music on the radio. Feel the seat under your bum. And breathe.
What emotion is showing up? Frustration. I feel frustrated that people aren’t more considerate.
Where do you feel it? My chest.
Where does the feeling want to move? It wants to get out.
Can you open up to the full feeling and let it move? Yes. Allow it to move from your chest, up your throat and make loud sound as you exhale next 3 breaths. Blow all that old air out.
What is the kindest thing you can do right now? Let that shit go and move on. What a waste of energy to hold on to that frustration. And instead of being frustrated that people aren’t more considerate, I can choose to be more considerate. I can put my fave music on and sing it out.
Have you overcome some un-life-enhacing habits or patterns? What’s your experience with it? Love to hear.
Until next time.
Be brave. Show up. Fall over. Get back up even stronger.