Have you ever taken a look in the mirror and not liked what you’ve seen?
I have… and I would love to have a really really long conversation with anyone who has honestly gone their entire life without experiencing that at some point in their life.
We’ve all been there. You get up in the morning and march to the mirror to begin the daily routine and look at the individual that stares right back at you and you think, “Not you, not today. I’m not in the mood for you. I think we need to go on a break.”
Time for a confession. I have days like that and it’s my job to find ways to help people through those days. It’s what I do. I show people how to deal with those really shit, vulnerable days and help them realise how important and valuable they are.
It’s hard though — how do you recognise any value in those days, weeks or months where you’re feeling low and vulnerable? Especially when all you feel like doing is staying away from people, finding that album that ‘understands you’ and putting it on repeat until you come to some amazing revelation about the way you’ve been living your life.
There are a few reasons why we have days like these and I could write a book dedicated to just that, but that would mean you’d be spending less time living and spending more time reading a poorly written book by myself.
My advice is don’t avoid that feeling. Feel shit, feel angry, feel tired, feel sad and frustrated. Allow yourself to lose control of your emotions. Cry if you have to, even if it feels like it’s for no reason. The more you resist those emotions as they come up, the bigger the explosion.
The tighter you pack a dynamite stick the bigger the bang.
By allowing yourself to actually experience these emotions, you increase the chances of finding the answers to why you feel that way. That’s what I personally came to realise when I stopped suppressing my anger and frustration about the cards I was being dealt.
I’ll give you my personal experience…
I unravelled a couple of months ago. Totally unravelled.
I had been exposed to more deaths than I thought I was capable of dealing with, I was watching people really close to me deal with health and drinking conditions that they weren’t willing to do anything about, and then throw in there the planning of a wedding and honeymoon with my incredibly patient fiancé.
Yeah, I unravelled and didn’t know how to think my way out of it this time. So I did what I was really uncomfortable with doing — I allowed myself to feel shit and depressed and angry and every other emotion that showed its uninvited face to my pity party.
It helped me in the most unexpected ways. It helped me dig up some big wake-up calls to the way I was living and thinking. Writing about it is easy, but when I had to do it, it took a lot of convincing from people around me.
The first thing I had to do was stop everything I was doing with my life because I was in the belief that I could push through. Then I stopped pretending to myself that I was ok. That’s when I allowed myself to feel shit and man (or woman), did that wake up some sleeping monsters.
Some of these were monsters I thought I had slain and dealt with and some were new ones. Either way, these monsters were living rent-free in my life and it was time for me to confront them and serve an eviction notice.
With the work that I do for people, part of it involves understanding emotions and managing them. This, however, was the thing that I had personally mismanaged. I didn’t realise at the time that what I thought was managing my emotions, was actually putting them on hold. That’s like a kink in a garden hose. It may look like the tap has been turned off but really there’s a whole lot of pressure building up at one point that is bound to burst if it’s given enough time.
Once I let go and started the unravelling, I started to bring a stack of lessons to the surface. Very important lessons on what I believed about myself. I released the kink in the garden hose and water came rushing through.
That’s not to say that I haven’t dealt with my crap. I have quite a lot of it at 26. But I put a pause on it because I felt like that’s what was going to make it easier. It doesn’t, it just delays the inevitable.
If dealing with life’s challenges means feeling down and out for a while, then do it. Sometimes you can’t walk into a fight or a problem with a smile on your face like you’ve got your shit together. If you feel bad about the way things are turning out, then feel bad.
Give yourself permission to feel shit, just be sure to do something with what you learn from it. The easy thing to do is throw a pity party and then stay there, never wanting to leave.
But, a pity party, like all parties must end at some point and it’s ok to ask for help cleaning up if you need it.