“Some people think that to be strong is to never feel pain. In reality, the strongest people are the ones who feel it, understand it, accept it and learn from it.” -Amy Lengths
What is it about struggle and feeling stuck that we are so afraid of? And why do we show up hiding behind our smile in the midst of challenge? As a yoga teacher of 10 years, I’ve come to learn that owning exactly where we are can be a very healthy process. It might be one of the hardest things to practice but can offer us so much personal growth.
Recently, I’ve had some very difficult and heavy things come into my life that have been tough to process and navigate my way through. At times, I’ve felt frozen, like I can’t possibly move forward or see my way through the yuck. It can be so uncomfortable that all I want to do is go back to bed and avoid the way I’m feeling. Even worse, I don’t want to let others know that I’m going through some major discomfort because I’d rather not be seen as fragile or weak. But, I get up every day despite all of these feelings and I’m showing up as I am and I’m making my way through it, at my pace.
Allowing What You Need
To the outside world, it may seem like I need advice because I’m moving my way through pain. I’m a little quieter and more reserved than usual and I don’t always have the energy to show up with a smile on my face. I feel this unspoken pressure from others to hurry up and fix myself because I’m needed to report front and center with a positive attitude and get back to being me. But, I am being me and what I really need is time. Time to let the heavy stuff hit me and process it and feel it. Time to let myself struggle.
My life doesn’t stop, but the girl in me who is always smiling may not want to come out as often. She may need some rest. And when I feel this way I have to let the external world go. There are so many opinions and judgments swirling around out there that it can be downright frustrating and oh so confusing.
I have to really focus on shrinking my to-do list, limiting my social engagements, slow down, get quiet and just be, so I can hear the right things – my own voice – that magical place right in the core of my soul. That is the place where I want to be stuck.
Trusting the Process
I need to return home to my heart when things feel heavy. And sometimes that means I can’t attend a party or I have to miss out on some fun or that I’m just tired and need to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing. I may not clean the kitchen or make it to the grocery store or respond as quickly, but I’m here and I’m perfect right where I am because I’m doing so many things that can’t be seen by the outside world and that is just fine with me. I’m working hard at acknowledging my shit and figuring out how to navigate my pain, giving up control and trusting the process. Those are things that I am attending to – me, myself and I and I don’t want to apologize for it either.
My brain feels the need to explain to everyone around me why I don’t want to be all smiles and my heart is screaming, “Hey! Don’t rush or judge me. Just open your heart and feel me. Right now, I’m just waiting for my soul to tell me some very important things and I don’t want to miss it, so I might not be able to participate in life the way you are used to seeing me right now.”
No Room For Masks
It’s hard for me to stand up for what I need sometimes because it means I have to open myself up to judgement and everyone’s opinions about how to solve my pain. But here’s the thing – I need to feel the pain and let it run all through my body so I can process it, let it go and grow. Pain and struggle are part of the process and it doesn’t make me weak or fragile to take my time to work through difficult situations in the way that works best for me. It takes a whole hell of a lot of courage to show up and be me, even when it feels messy and vulnerable. I’m tired of the trap we all fall into of pretending and putting on a fake smile or masking our discomfort – it’s so exhausting and quite frankly, I don’t have room in my closet for any more masks.
Life constantly throws us all kinds of things and we have to pay attention to what matters – ourselves. We matter! Every single one of us. We don’t have to pretend and we don’t have to have it all figured out. We can show up exactly as we are and whole heartedly give ourselves the space we need to navigate things at our own pace. We can stay stuck in our heart space without apology and listen to the voice of our soul. We can say no to things that don’t feel right (even if they used to). We can reside in things that feel painful and know that we have everything inside of us that we need to move through it if we just slow down and forget about what the outside world needs from us and tune in to what our internal world is saying.