my space tracker

Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: May 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Do Your Insides Match Your Outside?

There are times when we feel like we are a mess inside, yet we smile and say "fine, thanks," when asked how we are. Not everyone who asks how we are really wants to know, of course. And in our professional lives, social lives, and even with those closest to us, it's not always necessary to say everything. It is not always recommended either.

The glitch is that if you are walking around in emotional pain, and your insides are bruised or churning, and you are terrific at "acting as if," or you are simply not sure what do to with yourself and your pain, looking like nothing is wrong can just deepen your isolation and keep you in the problem.

More than that, though, many folks tell me that they wish their insides would match their outsides, at least most of time. People in emotional pain often wish that they could speed up the process of feeling better and not have to be in the bad feeling for so long. Even though staying with the feeling can often lead to new and better things, to more information about ourselves and to progress.

There are those who wear their emotions on their face, or whose pain is reflected in their eyes. But for those who remain pretty skilled at walking around as if all is well, yet feel like their inner world is collapsing, things can get pretty lonely.

There may be hours, or days where this is fine. Appropriate even. But after a while, acting can become exhausting. It can contribute to health issues, work problems, destructive behavior, or serious self attack.

So where's the line? When is enough acting enough? Who do you tell your troubles to? When do you answer honestly, "I'm a mess actually," or "I feel lousy," and when do you keep up the facade? Usually, I think, when we are truly honest with ourselves about how much we are hurting and are willing to credit ourselves with being worth the effort it takes to go for a more blended life, we open up to the right people. It often does bring relief when we tend to emotional pain by letting go of the pretense of being "just fine" when we are not.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Exhausted? What Kind of Tired Are You?

Sometimes people come in to my office and sit down on my couch and tell me how very tired they are. Exhausted, in fact. Most folks these days have busy lives, lots of things on the "To Do" list. Work, family, just the activities of daily living take up time and space and energy. Physical and mental.

But usually when folks tell me that they are exhausted -with a negative connotation - it's a cue to something deeper, something in the emotional or psychic realm. Of course, if you are having trouble sleeping, falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping well, exhaustion has yet another layer to it. But I have found that even when you are sleeping well enough, you can still feel exhausted.

So what gives?

Usually, when we unpack and study exhaustion we may find a few good possibilities:

~Exhaustion can be looked at as a defense - our unconscious mind's way of protecting us from something that we might not want to know - or feel, or might be afraid to know or feel.

~Exhaustion can be looked at as a messenger, nudging us to pay closer attention to our mental and physical health.

~Exhaustion can be a spiritual experience, alerting us to the idea that we may need to slow down and tune into our deeper selves or our spiritual life.

Often, exhaustion is a signal that we are angry, or feeling frustrated, hopeless or resigned about something, or someone. Sometimes it's a way of rebelling against a routine we don't like, but don't think we have a choice about. Sometimes, we may be exhausted because we are busy - on an unconscious level - fighting off a feeling, or trying not to feel it.

It may take some real reflection to discover what kind of tired we are when we feel exhausted.

Yes, maybe we are working long hours, or are busy with life, going through hormonal changes or seasonal allergies, but often, exhaustion has a deeper meaning. We may need to sit quietly, write freely, talk it out with a trusted other, to let the possibilities surface. When they do, we can find relief, renewed energy, and of course, hope.