HOW TO TAKE CONTROL
It’s that time of year (again). How many of you just want to hibernate right now? I know I do. How many of you have let the motivation of a New Year fade away? Has anyone noticed how your old habits have crept back in? For me, this is a time of year that is particularly difficult. Not just because the East Coast seems to be blanketed by heavy gray clouds. Not just because I have lost some steam and see old habits seeping back into my life, but because grief knocks on my door every winter.
Just about 5 years ago I watched my brother’s life slip away in front of my very eyes. As a critical care nurse I had a complete understanding of how all the lifesaving equipment and treatment worked. I knew that no matter how long they kept compressing his chest and no matter how many meds they pushed that the blood clot in his heart had already done too much damage. This was the day that I came to truly know grief.
Grief is sadness and pain. Grief is suffering. But we do not have to let it consume us. We can take control over it. Certainly I had no control over the death of my brother. This was (and is) call it the Universe’s business, Source’s business, God’s business – call it whomever or whatever you believe in. We have no control over the timing of the losses we experience in our life. So how do we relinquish control?
The key is in acknowledging and honoring the feelings and emotions that are coming up, but not attaching ourselves to those feelings. When we start to attach ourselves to emotions; when we let the feelings take control; we create stories. For instance, after my brother died, my aunt gave me a painted wooden sign on his birthday that read, “It Is What It Is.” I was feeling sad on his birthday and was not truly acknowledging nor honoring this emotion. Instead, I immediately attached myself to this sadness and as a result anger manifested. I was angry at my aunt for days. I was angry at that sign (which now resides in my kitchen). I told myself stories that were not even true. How many times has this ever happened to you? Anger happens to be my “go to” defense mechanism. But what is truly hiding underneath the anger is FEAR. I had a fear of death and I know I am not alone. I had, and sometimes still struggle with a fear of my life ending before I am able to do and be all the things I want before my time ends. The answer to un-attaching myself; ourselves; from the feelings is actually in the message of that very wooden sign my aunt gave me.
IT IS WHAT IT IS
Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? What is the current state of my reality? Ok, I am feeling sad. I am crying. I am feeling lonely. I just drank a kale smoothie and now I am eating cookie dough. Whatever “it” is, acknowledge “it” for what “it is.” But don’t make it who you are. You are not sad. You have a feeling of sadness; therefore you have sadness. Then inquire, “What should I do with this feeling?” If you don’t know sit with this question for a few minutes. Give it the space it deserves to find the answer within you. The answer may be to release the feeling; let it go. Or perhaps the answer may be to forgive yourself or someone else. And sometimes the answer is to just be with the feeling. Without fail, every time this year one of the answers is for me to just be alone with my sadness in my bedroom and let it move through me. Often times the other answers are to take a shower and let the feelings diffuse or to get outside and take a walk in nature.
Acting upon these answers of self inquiry is another way of relinquishing control. By shifting self care to the top of our priority list we are not only telling ourselves, our mind, that we are taking charge, but we are showing ourselves. We are leading ourselves by example. When we experience significant loss in our life this is an important time to ask for help. Asking for help is not a weakness. This was a lie I used to believe. This is a time for you to do whatever it is that helps you take care of you! It always sounds so easy when you read it as written words, but we all know that implementing self care can be difficult. But remember, this is a way to gain some control, some certainty, in a time when great uncertainty has been revealed. And that, my friend, is powerful.