Whoa, Renegades…. Can we just get down together for a minute about the coronavirus? I know that people in Austin have started to accept or at least begin to grasp the brevity of the situation.
I have found that explaining to my teenagers how we are going to go about this and how it’s our ethical duty to show up a little bit challenging and when it comes to my teenagers I have my reactions and I have my chosen response…
I can be empathetic, patient and compassionate EVEN when actually especially when they are looking for the loopholes and arguing with me how if they can’t do this they won’t be able to get into the college they want… or I haven’t seen my friends in months, a quick hello won’t hurt anyone –
they see their worlds shrinking before their eyes while the questions around “what’s next and then what?” grow.
They mentally slip into the uncertainty. The unknown. The out of control. I remind myself they don’t have the experience or emotional capacity to understand the magnitude of the situation or their actions… and as I look around, it would seem that we the adults don’t have the capacity to understand what is happening either…
AND HOW WOULD OR COULD WE…. We can all agree, there are not many generations alive that have experienced a global crisis like this. This is new for all of us… I want to encourage you to consider having grace for not only yourself at this time, but for those around you.
When you think about socially distancing, it’s no wonder we would resist… its counter intuitive. Our need for human connection especially during times of duress is natural. Not to mention, It’s our brains are literally wired for it… this is what separates us from the lizards and eating our young. All of that is to say, don’t be so hard on yourself if you’ve been going out or that you want to or that you don’t think you can survive not seeing people. You’re experience all the very human reactions.
Regardless if you are following along with the media, televised or social or even engaging in conversations with people around you, it’s easy to get caught up in fear.
– I have found myself slipping into panic over travel bans and getting my son home and what’s the right decision in regards to Faith and going back to school and what the fuck is going to happen…
I have people close to me insisting this is nothing and the media is just hyping it up to the opposite extreme- insisting I watch contagion so I can see where this is going and that I shouldn’t be living in my apartment building sharing ventilated air.
Listen. I’m approaching this like Atmosphere.. Just trying to find a balance… in the atmosphere… Both sides of the spectrum can operate how they’d like, it’s not for me to convince them to think or act differently, but instead focus my time and energy doing what I believe is right for me based on the data I’m analyzing.
There is zero judgment on anyone here. This is a very real thing triggering very real thoughts, emotions and behaviors in people. They are allowed that. I have found it incredibly useful to pause in these moments and ground. I take a deep breath and do an inventory of my thinking… Literally fact check. Is what I’m thinking fear based or happening right now. All math. No drama.
This requires awareness around my thoughts. Deliberate thinking and purposeful feeling.
For myself and For those around me. I can’t control how others choose to operate, be it physically in the world or outward emotionally. I can only control how I choose to think and feel.
I was listening to Tim Ferris interview Tyler Cowan a few weeks ago and they were discussing Meta Rationalization. This is where you look to trusted sources for information so that you can make a rational decision. One source Tyler recommends is Twitter’s search bar. You see, most of us are operating from an algorithm… and not just on your social media or internet, this extends to your world of friends and community.
I first woke up to my algorithm when trump was elected… I was like wait, I thought we were all on the same page? I quickly realized ‘we all’ was limited to the people I talk to, the news feed I subscribe to… the information that is sent to me based on that… that I live in a bubble that tells me my beliefs are not just mine, but global. That I’m living my own algorithm.
This was a beautiful lesson for me; it taught me a few things; 1. Shake it up. Your opinions are just that. Yours. And there are 7 billion people in this world. Get outside yourself. Meet people who think differently. Converse with them. Learn…
2. Shatter your belief systems. Site your sources, look at all the other perspectives- even try believing them for a day and then decide for yourself based on all that what you choose to believe… and feel free to change your mind…
anyway, that is a long winded way of saying, the Twitter search bar pulls up information in real time from around the world. You can go through it, filter out the bs and get some facts. There is NO algorithm.
When you make a decision based on facts, you don’t have to keep questioning yourself. Or going to your friends. Be the adult. Get informed and make the decision that is best for you- You know when it’s right.
I want to offer encouragement to get creative and look for ways to be social without interacting together… FaceTime your friends. Eat with them over the phone. Cook together. Watch movies together. Read…
Join in on the livestream options for yoga, meditation, bookclubs etc. Honesty, how fucking cool is it that these are even options for us!
Consider that your space is my space. This entire situation has reminded me of the cleanliness principle and how serious it is. in the past I’ve been lazy about washing my hands. I’ve been lazy about safe sex… Moments like this remind us to wise up- take care of your health for your sake and the sake of others. Don’t take your body or health for granted.
lastly, and this may seem like it goes against the grain of todays episode on how to lean into your feelings but I want to remind you that you have a choice – you can look at this like it’s the worst fucking thing ever or choose to look for the good that is happening around you. Your brain will want to go to the negative – this is what we humans do… that’s okay. again. grace. patience. compassion….this is the human experience. This is how we evolve. Just keep practicing choosing to see the good around you.
Now, lets discuss feelings and emotions – How to process them AND how to create them. I have some useful tools that you can start using NOW.
First of all… what exactly are feelings or emotions? Joe Dispenza says: We now know that our every thought produces a biochemical reaction in the brain. The brain then releases chemical signals that are transmitted to the body, where they act as messengers of the thought. In this way, the thoughts that produce these chemicals in the brain allow our body to feel exactly the way we were just thinking.
To simplify an emotion is a vibration that goes through your body after you think a thought. Your feelings are caused by your thoughts.
Now, I know A LOT of you are thinking wait. What? no. Something happens and I feel a certain way- I don’t even have to think to know what I’m feeling.
The reason you think you feel before you think a thought is due to the fact that we are mostly operating subconsciously. Our brains are taking in and processing information at a rate you can’t even begin to imagine.
You’ll be in the line at the grocery store, unloading all the things, thinking about dinner, if the person behind you could just back up a little- you scan the magazines while you put your oat milk on the conveyer belt and look towards the person in front of you to see if they are almost done and suddenly you realize you feel upset. Off.
Where did the at come from? You do a quick inventory – I’m not upset with the lady paying for her groceries… or the clerk. The person behind me wasn’t crowding me. That didn’t upset me… weird. Where did that feeling come from? Then you see the magazines.
On the cover of Peoples magazine there is a story about a woman whose children are missing and bingo- you feel the upset off feeling again…while you were standing there thinking all the thoughts observing the world around you, your brain had scanned the magazines and began processing the cover story and it triggered a bunch of thoughts about your kids and the fear she must be experiencing etc etc etc.
Your brain started to release the chemicals and vibration in your body, but because your full attention wasn’t there, you couldn’t identify it.
This is why we feel out of control at times… like our feelings are just happening to us.
Consider if you will, Feelings are like notifications on your smart phone are- they notify you as to what is going on. If your phone is anything like mine it’s letting you know about your appts on the calendar, who is calling- if your battery is about to die… there are Notifications that get my attention but don’t keep it -there are notifications that I don’t even notice, and sometimes there are notifications that really need my attention. Like when I have 1% battery left you’ve got my attention.
Feelings come and go all the same- they are a notification as to where you are and where you’re heading. When you are tuned in to them, you can manage them. And let me be the first to say, just acknowledging or labeling a feeling gives you authority or agency over it. Add allowing to the mix and now you’re talking about leveling up your capacity to feel. Aka be human.
When you allow yourself to feel you get intimate with the emotional experience. You start to recognize the sensations in your body- they become familiar friends. This is an added benefit because you don’t feel like your emotions are sneaking up on you.
In talking with my clients and observing my own experience I’ve noticed a few things happen when we are in our feels:
Some of us straight up try to avoid or resist when we do feel quote un quote a bad feeling – Somewhere along the way, we’ve adopted this belief that feeling negative feelings or discomfort is bad. We should be happy and grateful and so on.
Some of us are resistant to feel negative feelings because we believe that if we do, we might not survive it. To lean into grief, the heartache the anger – sounds like a terrible plan. It sounds Painful. Why would I go there… I might not make it back.
Lastly, Some of us judge ourselves for feeling negative emotions. This is just layering the cake if you ask me. Once you learn how to feel into your feelings you can start start using this as an opportunity to learn and develop self compassion as well as grace for yourself.
It’s important to know that the human experience is 50% good and 50% bad. THAT experiencing a full range of emotions Renegades, is the point. If there wasn’t any contrast you wouldn’t know the good ones… furthermore, the point of the human experience is to develop the capacity to feel. this is how we evolve.
I”m finding personally as I learn to do thought work and meditate, is that I’ll observe myself feeling off and I try to only do that, observe it and not feel into it
OR I try to change my thinking to produce a new feeling.
This can be counter productive. There are some feelings that need our attention, but Rather than leaning into the discomfort, I would basically try and rationalize my way out of it- this behavior totally subconscious on my part. I’ve been getting schooled in this arena.
The last few weeks I was consumed with thoughts about my life – my career- motherhood- birthday- moving… and I felt really fucking off. I couldn’t pinpoint what and where it was coming from and I was having an internal tug of war so to speak: My thoughts went from-
this is the most exciting time for you- you made a career out of motherhood now you can focus on you- your just turned 40, you’re living downtown- this is amazing… to thoughts like,
raising your kids was the most meaningful thing you’ll ever do -Not having everyone home at night for dinner or being needed feels lonely. You are not needed the way you once were… Your two favorite people to be with are no longer around the way they once were and you feel disconnected. Life will never be the same.
I told myself this is a time for me to ground and be home. Get centered. But I was actually isolating, feeling really edgy/ emotional. I was going back and forth trying to sugar coat some thoughts with better thoughts so I could FEEL better, but in all actuality, I was creating more feelings of unbalance in me. My behavior was aligning perfectly with my thinking and emotions.
I finally saw how I was resisting feeling unbalanced…. in that particular moment I allowed myself to explore the feelings judgment free and sit with disconnected, ungrounded and off balanced… and as I did, I was able to move my way through to the core thought that was causing the feeling. I’m sad. That mom life is over. AND I STOPPED RIGHT THERE.
I Identified and NAMED THE EMOTION: GRIEF…
You can do this by asking What am I feeling? Bring awareness to it. And
Don’t stop with I don’t know what it is I’m feeling… I can’t do this and give up in frustration…
I’ve noticed a lot of my peers, myself included, have a very limited vocabulary for the variety of emotions out there. Most of us are like fine mad sad good great but I want to encourage you to expand your knowledge and level up the options that are available to you. Google list of emotions – or demand Alexa tell you some new ones… Let’s be limitless in the emotions depart.
Step 2. Describe it: This requires you to pay attention. Be conscious and mindful about what is happening in your body. Take pen to paper and detail what exactly is happening. Imagine describing it to me as if I wasn’t from this world and had no fucking idea what a feeling was or is. how does it move? Fast slow static like? Is it heavy or soft or floating? Does it have a color? Tight in chest and neck? Heart beating ? Hot in body?
Step 3: Breathe into it and observe. What’s powerful about observing the emotion or being the watcher, is the actual shift that happens in your brain… the primal thinking of what the fuck is happening to me and feeling out of control moves into oh, this is what is happening- it signals to your brain that you are actually okay and not in danger. This is what I mean by you get agency over your feelings.
Step 4: Surrender with awareness. Let the feeling wash over you and don’t rush it. There is no feeling that you can experience that will kill you. You can just be with it. Typically the emotion will last for 90 seconds or so. Doesn’t sound long I know.. My brain and past would like to argue that- ummm, we just let go of feeling resentment about that one friend and it lasted 3 years…. And what about when Chris died… that grief lasted a decade. Here’s the skinny Renegades… we get caught up on these thought loops and keep re-creating the emotion. We lock into a thought, let it rinse and repeat. That isn’t actually processing, feeling allowing and accepting an emotion in real time. That’s us reliving and re creating past emotions.
All of that very human but as you get more skilled at mindfulness and awareness, I promise, you stop re living moments and start existing in the present feeling in real time.
After I surrendered
I cried the tears. Mourned the moment. I felt a wave of grief consume me- I had distracted myself for months and not truly acknowledged that having teenagers who were living their own lives- that I actually didn’t know what life was like not being a full time mom- was scary for me.
I was kind and gentle with myself and didn’t force myself out the human experience I was having… I felt the sadness. I grieved the mom life I once had…
I went about my day and when I would find myself thinking that part of my motherhood experience is over and I’d feel a wave of emotion hit me,
I would acknowledge it along with, this is me processing pain. This is my journey-
I was able to gently move my way out of this feeling as the day went on. There was no rushing it. Honestly, I felt relief solely by acknowledging the grief and allowing it. The resistance was out of my body. The grief didn’t Kill me and was a welcomed experience- a reminder to how much I’ve loved raising my babies.
I reached a place and space in my mind that acknowledged WHEN YOU THINK THE THOUGHT, this part of motherhood is over you CREATE the feeling of grief… this is when I knew I was ready to move to the next phase. The fact checking phase…all math. No drama.
I got very clear on the thoughts I was having and started to focus on the facts. Is motherhood over? Is it okay to not be needed? Can you still have structured sit down dinners- maybe not with the kids but with other people? How can you meet your emotional needs? Are you really disconnected from your kids? I looked at all the thoughts from all sides. I would try the thought on and see how it felt…
I’d ask myself – what is the upside to me thinking this way? Or How does this thought or story serve me?
What I want to circle back to is this-when you realize your thoughts create your feelings, not the circumstances you start to feel control over yourself.
For example; it’s not me becoming an empty nester that is so upsetting – it’s my thoughts that I have about it. Do you know how we know that to be true? Because what you think about being an empty nester is totally different than me. You might be counting the days until your kid move out… I know I have. I also Know in November I was thrilled about this next chapter in life.
It’s not the people places or things causing our feelings Renegades- it’s our thoughts about all those things. And it’s important to understand that there will be times when you will choose to feel sad maybe mad or fearful…
The coronavirus is the perfect example. Today, I’m choosing to think as positively as I can but last week my brain was sending off all sorts of notifications –
I wanted to get my podcast done but found myself too distracted to give it my full attention-
Everyone is calling about the coronavirus, yes, I have seen the 78 memes about toilet paper but does that mean we are not producing the toilet paper too? Are the factories shut down? I might need to get nick home. Definitely canceling our trip to new york. Why would we fly into the viurs. No one has it here. It’s safer here… I need to get my son home- how and where do I research travel bans? He’s definitely not going to Spain. Damn. and also how safe is it for me to be at a sound healing ceremony with 40 people in a large tent. Sweating… is that the opposite of social distancing. What exactly is social distancing… can I google that? dammit I wish I had a bidet… and then my brain straight up signaled fear as my thoughts and attention honed in on the
nick getting stuck in Argentina.
Faith catching it at school.
What about my work.
Our economy. How will local businesses survive this? What is this going to do us financially. Am I prepared?
The thoughts flowed and my energy followed. The vibration or emotion was definitely fear. All the what if’s and all the uncertainty. Fear because my brain is letting me know, based on my thinking, this could be life or death.
I grounded in the present moment, reminded myself I didn’t have the answers to those questions or the outcomes. That feeling fear isn’t going to Kill me and that it could actually be quite useful in this moment if channeled correctly.
I was literally standing in my bathroom outside my closet when I fully surrendered to it. To the sensations in my body and kept saying this is me feeling fear. This is me processing my thoughts about the coronavirus. This is fear. This is my brain on fear. This is my brain trying to protect me…
Once I felt it, I asked myself what emotion do I want to feel right now about getting Nick home and faith out of school. What would fear be if it was productive?
My answer : proactive and safe
I asked myself; What does that feel like? Focused. Alert. No time for drama. There is a driven force in my body. No time for bull shit.
I asked myself: How can I commit to that? I can remind myself that this is serious to me, in the infamous words of my galpal KK, it’s Mission critical. Nothing else matters besides this. do my research and make the calls-
I asked myself, How do I act when I’m committed to feeling this way? Like a mother fucking super hero.
And then Renegades, I saw mySELF here. Acting like a mother fucking super hero… my results followed. I got shit done.
This is how you create feelings on purpose… if you find yourself distracted, start at the top: what emotion do I want to Feel and what does that feel like? Keep choosing it over and over again.
Chances are, you may not want to change how you feel right now. You may want to be scared, mad or angry. All of which you are entitled to. remind yourself, I’m choosing this feeling, it’s not choosing me. Sit gently with the feelings. Make friends with them. They are notifications informing you as to where you are and where you’re going.
Alright my loves sending 10 second consensual energetic hugs from 6 feet away. Keep those hands and heart chakras scrubbed Renegades. Love you.