When you perceive your life as out of control, does it ever just feel you’re immersed in TV static? That’s the best way I can describe it for me, honestly. It’s loud, it’s chaotic, it’s fuzzy. I can’t navigate through my thoughts or emotions regardless of how hard I try. It all seems as though, no matter what I do, I will never be able to regain control. As if that’s not bad enough, the dumb bitch who lives in my head continues to assure me repeatedly that everything is awful and will remain that way forever. After a while, I even start to believe her.
This is a defining moment. This is when I need to decide whether I’m going to listen to that dumb bitch and continue being desolate or if I’m going to tell her to shut the fuck up and make some moves. This is when I have to recognize that I am the only one who is in control of my circumstances. I can choose to stop making excuses and make the necessary changes in order to find peace or I can sit in my pit of misery and continue experiencing the same painful cycles.
But why do we do that to ourselves? Why are we so hellbent on making ourselves miserable? Why do we convince ourselves that we can’t do something that we really want to or that we are stuck in the same position, same job, same relationship, same town indefinitely? When did we decide that how other people see us defines who we are and then we allow that to dictate how we maneuver our own lives?
I don’t know about y’all, but that doesn’t sit right with me. I want to be happy. I want to be proud of myself, of how far I’ve come, of how much I’ve grown. I refuse to be the type of person who sits back and lets life happen to them. I’m not going to be able to accomplish my goals if 98% of the time I feel like I’m upside down in my own head or if I’m worried about what other people think/do/say/want. No thanks. That just is not a life worth living to me.
Eventually I have to decide that enough is enough, that I want more for myself, and to stop playing the victim if I’m not putting in the work. I have to give myself tough love. I have to tell myself to get my shit together. I have to face my demons head on without flinching or they are never going to go away. I have to start paying attention to the voices in my head in order to determine whether they are coming from a place of self-love and compassion versus anxiety and fear. I have to tune into my body frequently and respond swiftly and accordingly when I feel negative emotions building instead of allowing them to spill over.
This is where shit gets real in the shadow work world.
The sense of accomplishment that I feel once I reach a breakthrough is unlike anything else I have ever experienced. It’s as though a giant weight I didn’t even realize was there gets lifted off my chest and I can finally breathe again. It’s like I can see clearly for the first time in however long I’d been putting off leaning into those emotions. The volume of the static dies, the chaos ceases, and the fuzziness goes away. And the more consistent I am in catching myself, the easier and quicker it becomes to emerge from the other side.
Don’t get it twisted though, that doesn’t necessarily mean this kind of work is easy. This requires me to look at the deepest, most painful parts of my soul that I’ve done everything in my power up until this point to avoid facing. This requires me to be fully, brutally honest with myself—without fear and without judgment. I am not going to lie to you, it does hurt for a minute and it is frightening. But in my experience, the toll becomes greater the longer I evade it. Best believe that the demon will keep rearing its ugly head until I finally find the courage to chop it off.
Some days, I move mountains and conquer the world; others, I’m not so great. But that’s okay. Even while giving myself tough love, I have to also remember to give myself compassion. I can’t be expected to be perfect and this type of stuff isn’t going to be something I master overnight. I genuinely accept that I am ever-changing and will forever be a work in progress. I accept that there will be times that are harder than others to stay grounded. I forgive myself for all the times in the past that I have fallen apart and for all the times in the future I’m going to do it again. I’m grateful for these moments because even though they may be dark, they always end up being the most illuminating. All we can do as individuals is wake up every morning and try to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, and that’s all I’ll ever ask of myself.
Try this: Make a list of 10 things that you’re grateful for. What parts of your life are working well for you? What do you like about yourself?
Take note of the areas of your life that you feel are unsatisfactory. What’s not working right now? What is a continuous source of stress? What do I need in order to heal? Be gentle, but be honest. What do you actually want this area to look like? This is the fun part. Get extremely clear on this. Get excited! No dream is too big. Journaling can be effective.
What incremental step can you take today to get yourself closer to that vision? When I say incremental, I mean teensy tiny. Ease yourself into it. If your goal is to start going to the gym in the mornings, start with setting an alarm the night before. That’s it. You don’t have to get up when it goes off. You don’t have to leave the warmth of your bed that first day or even the first few. Simply by setting the intention, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to become comfortable with the changes you’re implementing. There’s no need to rush or change overnight. Give yourself grace and just keep trying.