Why is it that our innate response to difficult emotions is to run the opposite way?
I speak and write often about the benefits of leaning in:
- Leaning into the discomfort
- Leaning into the pain
- Leaning into the abyss of not knowing what will happen next
- leaning into vulnerability
But, as with most of my teachings, practicing what I preach can be incredibly difficult. I’ve noticed that my level of defensiveness, reactivity, and intellectualization of my feelings can get in the way of exactly that:
It can be terrifying, paralyzing even, to acknowledge that which we do not have control over:
Other people, circumstances, experiences, and even our own emotions.
But what we do have control over, what we will only ever have control over, is how we choose to respond and react to our lives, emotions, and experiences.
It is only when I lean into the discomfort of not having control, that I gain the capacity to choose how to best move through it.
I have to go through, not around.
I have to run, walk, and sometimes drag my feet through the pain.
Leaning into pain, fear, or discomfort is hard. It’s as simple as that.
Every single time I write, I am actively leaning into my self-centered fear. My fixation on what you think of me. My assumption that I will be judged, talked about, or ridiculed.
But when I play the tape through, does what you think of me define who I am?
I have lived so much of my life wearing different masks. Being people pleasing. Not setting boundaries. Internalizing everyone else’s truth as my own. Stifling my voice and settling for what I thought I deserved.
Never causing a ripple in the externally pristine waters of my life, but internally drowning under the waves.
I don’t have to live that way anymore. Neither do you.
When I speak my truth, my voice shakes.
When I write my truth, my fingers hesitantly type against the keyboard.
When I publish my truth, I acknowledge the self-doubt and fear.
But I lean in anyway.
I lean in against the current of everything telling me not to.
The most helpful tool for me has been to look inwardly and acknowledge what is blocking me from speaking and living my truth. I’m a pretty opinionated person (if you haven’t been able to tell so far), so speaking my truth means pissing some people off.
It means people will disagree.
It means I will receive a backlash of negativity at times.
But unless I’m receiving backlash from others in the proverbial arena, as Brené Brown puts it, I am simply not interested anymore. Your opinions do not serve me.
So what is stopping you from feeling your pain? From leaning into the discomfort?
Identify what is blocking you, and fight with everything you have to deconstruct it.
The emotional freedom you experience will be worth the fight.