Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, March 30, 2007

The flip side

When I'm feeling "down," I tend to want to enjoy a little too much comfort food if I don't stay on top of my feelings.

When I remain aware of my pain and breathe through it, I understand I need to eat well in order to help those painful feelings pass a little more quickly than they would if I'm also feeling badly about how I'm treating my body.

I'm so not interested in those feelings of hurt and sadness hanging around a long time. I know they have to be experienced so I can get on the other side of them and back to peaceful and happy - and the only way to get on the other side is to go through them.

Interestingly, Buddhism declares that the reason - and degree to which - we suffer emotionally is caused by our attachment to things and people.

The more we are attached to someone or something, the more apt we are to experience deep sadness, agony and other miserable feelings with their separation.

It's not that we should be free of attachment, but that we rather hold anyone and anything for whom we care lovingly with an open hand rather than imagining that we need to be so close we share the same molecule.

It's sort of like loving unconditionally without stalking the other person or allowing ourselves to be abused, disrespected or neglected.

The point is - no one can be happy 100% of the time, and it's important that we understand how to deal with the flip side - sadness, disappointment, lethargy, gloom, misery, melancholy or heartbreak.

I've learned when we take care of ourselves - as hard as that is during times of woe, the downside passes more quickly. Ultimately. The more we have the courage to experience the pain hitting us instead of trying to avoid it or souping up on our vices - the faster it transports itself out of our system.

I've certainly gone through this process more than I'd care to admit, but have to say it works.

I also know that if it lasts too long, professional help should defintely be sought.

But for the majority, letting ourselves sit with the misery so it can move on instead of fighting it or simply trying to entertain ourselves "out" of it generally works wonders.

Sharing with friends is also a great way to help the unhappy energy pass through a little more quickly. The British expression is, "a problem shared is a problem halved."

I guess the reason it feels lifted is that when we acknowledge the pain and its cause, indentify it and say it out loud, we can release it. Then we can investigate and understand how it happened and how we can prevent it in the future. Or how we can repair the damage, which perhaps is the most healing thing we can do.

As the sadness dissipates, there's now room for good vibes to take their place, and it's important to be with people who can give us positive messages about ourselves.

It takes courage to deal with difficult feelings - and it takes a champion mentality to confront them and then reach out to make an effort to make amends.

Back to Buddhism.

I believe what they mean is that if we don't allow our identity to become so massively enmeshed in someone else's identity or work, when we run into bumps in the road they won't be so deep they outright paralyze us.

People will always disappoint us, sooner or later.

The degree to which we suffer from that disillusionment depends on how deeply we've allowed ourselves to become immersed in someone else's expectations, world, identification or personality.

This is known as "maintaining our personal boundaries." Again, it doesn't mean we remain aloof. Quite the contrary it means that we communicate freely and truthfully, can love openly and honestly without letting another person become our diety, putting them and their needs or wants ahead of or above us.

The relationship is free of fear.

Two people maintaining their personal identities and boundaries have a rich, sharing, wonderful life indeed because there is no fear of loving, sharing, being open or caring because we are constantly learning and healing ourselves and the other person being compassionately empathetic with them.

If we experience ourselves enmeshed in someone or something else, losing ourselves in them somehow -- we leave ourselves open to pretty horrific pain. And it's impossible to do a thing about anyone else's behavior. They either genuinely care or they don't.

When boundaries are maintained and we've shared honestly, openly, unselfishly - we can recognize the danger signs and do someothing about it nearly immediately.

Nothing can protect us ultimately from hurt, sadness and other agonizing emotions from which we must heal. But as long as we have an awareness of our feelings and tools to deal with them, they don't have to hurtle us into pandemonium or hell along with behavior that is other- or self-destructive.

Here's a big virtual blog hug if you're suffering. ;-)

Be well.

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