In 2020, what would it be like…
To let my emotions in response to stressors and hardships soften me instead of harden me?
To let myself be present to the moment without the hustle of planning or striving necessary?
To let my worthiness and security be found internally rather than externally?
To speak out the burdens I carry in silence?
To find a secluded pause throughout the day to indulge in quietness, knowing that any of the discomfort or anxiety the stillness is bringing up is simply an invitation to hear my own voice, and to give compassion to the voice I find?
To exercise because I enjoy movement, deep breaths, and empowerment, not because I want to look a certain way?
To love the people around me for who they are rather than how they impact me for better or worse?
To be the trustworthiness to others that I long for in return?
To be the gentleness I wish to see in the world?
To listen in order to understand, not to respond?
To not adjust myself in order to satisfy others?
In 2019, I have learned that life is more about the questions than the answers. In 2020, I hope you never tire of the journey of growth. If I encountered your presence and heart along my journey through 2019, know that I am grateful for you. Through witnessing your suffering, I have been encouraged to surrender. Through your anxieties, I am reminded to rest. Through your tears, I am witness to the beauty of NOT holding it all together. We are all longing for a witness to the goodness within us, and I have seen you through eyes of pure appreciation. I have so much to learn - from you, from myself, from experiences, from the pain, from the light – and I am excited to step into this unfolding in 2020. I cannot wait to meet you there.
I am thankful for FRIENDS.
Laughter. Support. Joy.
I am thankful for FAMILY.
Traditions. Known. Tenderness.
I am thankful for WORK.
Growth. Healing. Curiosity.
I am thankful for BEAUTY.
Unending. Awe. Comfort.
I am thankful for YOU.
Precious. Loved. Important.
Safety – the condition of being protected from danger, risk or injury
Control – the power to influence, manage or direct the course of events
The restriction of an activity
A means of limiting or regulating something
To determine the behavior of
When I read these definitions, I have understanding for why people cling to control. It is a signifier of those whose safety has been violated. And honestly, whose safety hasn’t been violated. So before any further reading, I hope there is a place of compassion that you can reach within yourself towards those controlling tendencies that drive you crazy, both in yourself and others. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to stay safe and alive.
When I put these definitions side by side, it is easy to see the correlation that the more danger, risk or injury someone has experienced, the more tempting it can become to use control as a coping mechanism. It is a natural instinct to want to limit danger. In fact, it actually means that you are a human being, fully alive. Congratulations! The struggle comes into play when this whole control thing gets out of whack. When the dangerous experiences of our past are left unprocessed, we become hypervigilant - scanning our present to protect us from our past. The cycle goes like this: The more unprocessed danger I have from my past, the more I believe danger is my present, so the more I begin to control in order to prevent the perceived danger, and the more I control, the more I validate that my present is dangerous because not everything is turning out the way I planned. Yikes! Not a fun feedback loop.
I know this loop well. I have not evacuated it, and most likely never will completely. However, I can notice it and manage it a little bit better than I used to. I have learned the ways I like to control – scheduling, having an easy exit, limiting engaging interactions, perfectionism, etc. These things within themselves are not bad. Like most coping, the issue is when they are over-functioning. For example, am I limiting engaging interactions as a way of self-care where I listen to my limits and energy levels, or has it become so over-functioning that I am completely isolated? In other words, is it based on my need or my fear? Simply being aware of your "control coping strategies" of choice allows you to have a signal of when to check back in with yourself and be curious about what the driving force is behind them.
It is also crucial to process your past trauma, aka “Safety Violations,” to live in freedom in the present. Through this processing, it creates a space where we can slow the trigger down enough to separate the past from the present and acknowledge if there really is danger in the present. Without the heightened fear of the past hijacking our emotional system, we have a little bit more space to access our rational brains to assess if the situation is real danger or perceived danger. And finally, there is trust, surrender, and self-control. Surrendering what I cannot control, and focusing on the things I can control - myself. And most importantly, knowing that when the danger is real, you can trust yourself to take of care of you. You would not be reading this if you had not already kept yourself safe many times before when necessary.
1. Significance – I want to know that I am special, chosen, and worthy of love.
The important thing to note with this common need is where we are getting our sense of significance. In what ways do we tell ourselves we are significant? Suffering arises when our significance comes from comparison to things external to us. True significance comes when we have the assurance that we are worthy of attention simply because we are, not because someone else validated that we are.
2. Connection – I want to experience being known, deeply loved, and supported.
We are all relational creatures longing to tell our story and for our story to be heard. The important thing to note with this basic human need is the risk of vulnerability. Without the risk of vulnerability, we can never experience the deep connection our heart is longing for. When we do not risk vulnerability, we settle for surface-level connection that never fulfills our need. We end up in a place of aching and suffering where we desperately settle for lust; a place where satisfying our thirst becomes more important than true companionship and intimacy.
3. Growth – I want to learn and develop into my best self.
Growth is a need that prevents us from becoming stagnant. It is built into our very DNA that we are developmental creatures. The important thing to note with this need is the posture in which we seek growth. The gift of growth is that it provides us an opportunity to remain in a humble and present posture. We will never know everything. In some ways, we are all beginners. Suffering can come when our pride tells us we already know, and therefore our seeking becomes for the sake of performance rather than true self-development. Suffering can also come when we are so focused on growth, we miss the beauty of living in the present moment in full acceptance.
4. Contribution – I want to know that I impact the world for better.
How great is it that we are wired with the urge to leave things better off than we found them? The important thing to remember with this need is why you are contributing. Is your motive to change the world in order to make others’ lives better, or is it so that your name can end up in a history book? Suffering comes when our contributions have hidden agendas with strings of expectation attached. True contribution is content with nothing in return but the reward of giving itself.
5. Uncertainty – I want to experience life to the fullest.
It is normal to feel bored and to hope for redemption. It does not take long to look around and realize the depth of variety in our creation. Our environment is booming with the cycle of life, from newness to death. Change is constant. The important thing to note with the need for uncertainty is maintaining the value of reality and relationships. We can so easily get caught up in experience seeking that we begin to deny any part of our reality that is not positive or pleasurable. We can also begin to lose focus of our relationships, where activities and experiences replace true intimacy. True uncertainty comes in the fullness of all of life, both the joy and difficulties, as well as the experiences and people.
6. Certainty - I want the assurance of comfort and safety.
Self-preservation is great in its ability to keep us alive and unharmed. There is no way to simply turn off our longing for certainty because it is a need, not just a desire. We cannot not fight to keep ourselves breathing and comfortable. The important thing to keep in mind with our need for certainty is our fear. When our need for certainty leads us to a place of fear, we can become rigid and closed-off. We become closed-fisted and teeth clenched. Our struggle becomes one of self-reliance. We medicate with our own narrow view of right and wrong, safe and unsafe, leading to a place of defensiveness. True certainty comes from something greater than ourselves. Whatever your belief system is, reliance on a higher power who is in control and trustworthy allows us true rest.
So much of my anxiety rests on needing to feel safe, and I feel safe in concrete things I can be sure of. I feel safe in what is known. It is reliable. It is a guaranteed thing. Here I can have complete freedom from doubt. Here I can act from complete confidence. Sounds amazing, right? But what happens when…there is little we have to be sure of. I would even dare to say, there is nothing we can be completely sure of. This thought is terrifying…humbling…vulnerable.
I could let this place of surrender lead me to more anxiety and despair, but what if I leaned into faith and trust instead? What if I allowed for the mysteries of life to unfold beauty before me, rather than pushing beauty aside for the sake of security? What if I felt safety through freedom instead of through circumstances? What if I gained my confidence through the release of control rather than by the bootstraps of my own inner strength?
We are ALL longing for affirmation, security, and assurance that we are okay. And this longing is good! From the answer to this longing, we gain confidence and self-worth. What is important though is where we find the answer to this longing. What rest would you experience if you knew the answer has always been there, and it has never changed? You have never needed to go find it, to earn it, or maintain it. You have assurance within your circumstances, but you also have assurance within your personhood. What if today, and every day, you traded the need for assurance for the proclamation of freedom…for the vulnerability of trust?
No one is without a past. Therefore, no one is without pain. And what happens when our present experiences reinforce the pain of our past? We become triggered – meaning activated and disregulated. There is compassion for you that we cannot NOT be triggered. Our triggers are activating the part of our brain that is instinctual. This part of our brain means well because it is trying to keep us safe. Unfortunately, this instinctual part of the brain is separate from the part of the brain where there is logic and decision making. Bummer! All of this, the triggers and the lack of control around them, is VERY hard. Extremely hard. You are not alone! Yes, even therapists get triggered.
Thankfully, through the processing of our past traumas, and reparative experiences in our present, our brains can be retrained. When this happens, our fight, flight or freeze response is only activated when there really is TRUE imminent danger, freeing us to live a life fully present and with less fear. AGHHH. What relief! So how does all of this play out in our real, everyday lives? Below, I have listed our two most common responses to triggers. In contrast, I have listed the way we can redirect ourselves in the midst of our triggers to create new reparative experiences, where safety and comfort can create both healing and connection. I don’t know about you, but I get excited when I think about giving the fear in my brain a new narrative, that I am safe and loved, so that it can take a much needed vacation from hyper-vigilance and survival.
Instinctual Responses to Trauma
When we feel unsafe, causing fear and distress, we usually respond by:
Moving Away – an attempt to contain emotion.
Includes defensiveness, denial/minimizing, shut down, avoidance, numbing,
Intellectualizing, performing, placating, anger (pushing away), and withdraw to
something else more affirming.
Moving At – an attempt to control.
Includes anxious protest, accusations, demands, criticism, instructive teaching, anger (poking and pulling), and withdraw to take care of self/self-sufficiency.
Reparative Response to Trauma
Allows us to feel safe, building trust and establishing comfort.
Moving Towards – an attempt to connect to self, God, and/or others.
Includes curiosity, acknowledgement, vulnerability, shared feelings and desires, listening, holding what is, affirmation and validation, grace and mercy, and a willingness to be soothed.
In therapy, there is a lot of work around emotions. What am I feeling? Hurt, anger, shame, fear, loneliness, sadness, guilt, joy, etc.? Even deeper still is what these emotions are leading us to. That deeper pain and wounding that needs our attention so that we may grow and have healing, leading us closer to our needs and desires. As I am learning, the common experiences of pain that unite us all are usually a deeper wounding around abandonment and/or rejection.
REJECTION says, “I am unacceptable in your eyes.”
ABANDONMENT says, “You are not here for me. I have no place in your heart.”
Rejection and abandonment are the themes that act as a bridge between our past hurt and our present reminders of that hurt. The next time you have a big surge of emotion, I encourage you to let that be a signal for you to look deeper underneath the hood, to the possibility of any feelings of rejection or abandonment you might be experiencing. So what is the healing salve for rejection and abandonment? Connection! Only through connection can we receive the healing messages of acceptance and security.
Connection heals our wounds of REJECTION, saying, “I accept you. You are worthy in my eyes. You are good.”
Connection heals our wounds of ABANDONMENT, saying, “I am here for you. You have an important place in my heart. We are in this together.”
In honor of Mindful May, is feels fitting to write about mindfulness. Mindfulness can sometimes feel like an abstract concept, and that’s because it is! It is hard to formulate words to completely detail the inner workings of the human brain, body and heart connection. So although I have a snapshot of what mindfulness is and is not to me, know that it is a personal endeavor, and one best experienced.
* Mindfulness is NOT getting completely rid of thoughts (Good luck with that).
* Mindfulness IS catching when my mind goes to the past or the future, and bringing my awareness back to the present, over and over again.
* Mindfulness is NOT multitasking (That sneaky “But it is more productive” trap).
* Mindfulness IS tuning into my senses in the present – the tastes, sights, smells, touch, and sounds – by being with the one task in front of me.
* Mindfulness is NOT dragon breathing with a gong (Well not always).
* Mindfulness IS using my breath as an anchor, being soothed by a deep inhale, feeling the breeze through my nostrils and my stomach expanding, followed by an even longer exhale, over and over again.
* Mindfulness is NOT being a blissful person 24/7 (Good luck with that as well).
* Mindfulness IS noticing feelings or thoughts of discontentment, and bringing awareness back to the present, finding moments of joy and gratitude within the difficulty, not despite it.
* Mindfulness is NOT thinking you are horrible at mindfulness (No one has this figured out).
* Mindfulness IS noticing when my thoughts are an inner critic, taking me towards judgement of self and others, bringing myself back to the moment, and instead extending myself and others deep compassion and grace for being a fellow struggling human being.
Therefore friends, my encouragement would be to just start. Set a timer or an alarm right now while you are reading this, or use a visual, such as every time you put on your seatbelt or you feel your feet hit the ground in the morning, as a reminder for your mindfulness practice. If you wait until it feels right or good, or you are having a mental breakdown, you might never experience its benefits. Mindfulness is way more about consistency than accuracy, and therefore, is a practice of love.
Such a vulnerable word. Such a helpless feeling.
I think many of us spend the majority of our lives running from our desperation - our deepest fears and our human frailty.
We run from it by controlling things external to us.
We run from it by redirecting our fear to anger.
We run from it by judging others.
We run from it by staying busy.
We run from it by unhealthy coping.
But what happens when we finally drop the rope and just…let…go?
When in humility, we surrender what we cannot control and befriend our hearts - quiet and still enough to hear its’ tender cry and longing.
This is the softening where our desires become clear.
This is the softening where the world slows down.
This is the softening where I claim what I love.
This is the softening where I find rest.
This is the softening where I come home to myself.
Many people ask me why God allows suffering, and I don’t have the answers. But I do know, if it were not for my suffering, I would never reach desperation. And if I never reached desperation, I would never fall into God’s arms. The One who in His grace, wants to reorient me back to His sovereignty and my freedom.
I do not think it is a coincidence that with a little rearranging, the word desperate becomes the word separated. So in the midst of your despair and most anxious moments, I encourage you to slow down and reconnect - to your breath, to your heart, to your desires, to your Creator.
I think many of us can relate to that moment when we walk away from a conversation and ask, “Why in the world did I just respond that way?! That was SO not my intention!” I think many of us can also relate to that moment when out of deep anxiety, we look down at two empty cartons of ice cream and realize we were not truly present for any of its consumption. We all have different ways that we cope with our deep emotional aches, whether it be substance abuse, sexual addiction, social media, etc. It seems like our response to pain can happen so quickly, that sometimes we miss what the original trigger or emotional pain was all together.
Why is this important? Because one of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to slow down enough to notice our pain, whenever possible. It is the best gift because you are valuable, your life is valuable, and the people who are in relationship with you are valuable. You might not notice your own emotional distress until after your instinctual coping strategy has been carried out, hence looking down at the two empty cartons of ice cream, but it is never too late to pause and go inward. And the good news is, the more often we slow down and lean into our hearts, the more instinctual it becomes. Likewise, the less instinctual it will be to grab onto our familiar coping strategies.
This process of noticing when we are triggered and going inward to be with our own hearts is TERRIFYING, but most of that fear is because it is unknown territory. However, one of the most beautiful journeys we will embark on is the one of becoming more familiar with ourselves. The more we notice what our typical triggers and coping strategies are, the more we begin to notice the very moments most critical to lean into the pain rather than our typical response of resisting it. With this practice over time, we become more familiar with ourselves and our needs, all of which are working to increase our intimacy with others and decrease the shame we experience after the high of our coping strategy has worn off.
If you feel like leaning into your own heart in the midst of great suffering is too overwhelming, there is nothing wrong with you. There wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry built on our addictions if it were not difficult. I encourage you to reach out for support, whether that be a safe friend, counselor, etc. I encourage you because, YOU my dear, are way too important to live a life of reactivity, coping, disconnect and shame. You are worth having a life that you can be fully alive to, fully free, with true intimacy and joy. Below I have listed a mindfulness exercise that I hope can offer you guidance for the journey inward. You are not alone.
NOTICE – Trigger, Emotional Disregulation, Suffering, Discomfort, Pain, Anxiety, Deep Sadness, Anger, Fear, etc.
CURIOSITY – Turn towards the pain a little at a time. What am I resisting? What am I sensing? Where do I feel this emotion in my body? If I let go of this strong emotion, what else would there be?
ALLOW – Lean towards what arises, stay with it, and BREATHE into it. I am receptive to what arises. I will let what is unfold. I am unattached to any outcome. I will meet with what rises and give it space. I will breathe into my belly, and return to my breath whenever my mind wanders. It’s not about how many times my mind wanders, but that I come back. I will allow the unknown to be here. I will let myself be fully here, because here is the only experience I have.
COMPASSION– I am meeting myself with wherever I am with kindness. I will cut myself some slack. I am neutral. There is no good or bad here. I just am. There is no judgment or comparing. I don’t attach to what arises, I just notice what is being reflected to me. I am not my personality type or my behavior, I just have patterns I am stuck in. I understand that these patterns have been developed to keep me safe, although they are no longer working for me.
RECEIVE – I am not searching myself for advice. I just let the insight effortlessly arise by returning to my breath. What have I been given greater than myself? What is my inner wisdom telling me I need? What does this mean for me? What options have been expanded for me? What do I know is true?
SHIFT – What do I choose to do now? What sacred step arose that is different than my ordinary reaction? What is the new opportunity I have been given to do something different?
In this season of love, I simply want to share my heart with you.
Brene Brown says, “It’s hard to hate people up close.”
For fun, enjoy my favorites list below. There are 28 items for each day this month. <3
1.Band: Band of Horses
2.Poem: “As I Began to Love Myself,” by Charlie Chaplin
9.Blues Artist: Marc Broussard
10.Classic Rock Band: The Beatles
11.Football Team: University of Alabama “Roll Tide”
13.School Subject: English
15.Cereal: Raisin Brand
21.Book of the Bible: Psalms
23.Beauty Product: Moisturizer
26.Entertainment: Live Music
27.Phone App: Dictionary
You know what I hate most about grief – The tight and sharp grip it has as you feel it rushing in to crush your vulnerable heart. I also hate the heavy and empty ache it leaves in its wake. If you have felt this life altering blow, or you are currently feeling it, I AM SO SORRY. It really does hurt to be a human. It hurts to love. It also hurts to be alive to our own heart’s cries and to acknowledge its losses. I wish there was an easy fix. A magic wand we could wave, or at least a numbing stick to eradicate the pain until we have the strength to breathe into the pain once again.
You know what I love most about grief – How everything slows down. When we do not have the energy to care about frivolous things, a type of forced simplicity also rushes in. We seldom slow down enough to take a deep breath, letting it fully expand and deplete our body, as well as we do when we think surely we will never be able to breathe again because the ache is just so much. Thank you grief for helping me breathe. I have never slowed down enough to stop somewhere and buy myself flowers, simply because I so desperately needed to see SOMETHING beautiful. Thank you grief for guiding me to stop and smell the roses…literally. The warm sunshine hitting my face through the window has never felt so comforting, because I typically do not need warmth on my body to remind me I am still alive. Thank you grief, for teaching me how the very creation around me is sweeping in to embrace me in my need.
The hard part about grief is holding both of the experiences from the two previous paragraphs without putting a big BUT, in between them. Any calm, peace, beauty, or joy that I feel will never be enough to cover up my storm or make it go away. But in the same way, no matter how devastating my storm, it will never be big enough to cover up my calm, peace, beauty, and joy. And in processing my grief, it looks a lot like holding the tension of these two seemingly opposite experiences until they slowly blend into one. One beautiful, messy, strengthened part of who I am and who I am becoming.
You illuminate the dark
The dark returns
Where have you gone?
The moment I stop looking
There I find you
You are alone
You are kind
You are slow
Like fresh air on mountain side
You lighten the load
The load returns
Where have you gone?
The moment I surrender
There I find you
You are space
You are light
You are love
Like solitude to kiss a heavy heart
You still the frantic
The busy returns
Where have you gone?
The moment I rest
There I find you
You are pause
You are wisdom
You are compassion
Like refreshment for the drought
You quite the fear
The doubt returns
Where have you gone?
The moment I believe
There I find you
You are gentle
You are beauty
You are mine
Like light guiding me home
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, based solely on the fact that it is an entire day where the whole world stops to think about what they are grateful for. In a world surrounded by so much negativity and devastation, gratitude is a bright beam of light in the midst of darkness. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a synonym for gratitude is applaud. I love that! How cool to think, that by having a mindset of gratitude, we are literally walking around applauding the beautiful creation surrounding us. Even more shocking was to see that an antonym for gratitude is abuse. To not see the good in something, is to see the bad, or to not see anything at all. And when we feel like something is bad or unimportant, it becomes more difficult for us to honor it. I know with the people in my life, I want to applaud them, not abuse or ignore them. So why would I not want to do the same for my life experiences and circumstances as well?
As the month of November draws closer to an end, I cannot help but ache for the thought of gratitude being a long forgotten healing balm, only to return again this time next year. With the bustle of Christmas drawing ever nearer, my awareness of how important it is for gratitude to be a consistent part of my life is becoming even clearer. In sharing gratitude with a dear friend the other day, I realized how helpful gratitude can be in reflecting our own hearts back to ourselves. If you ever want to see what state your heart is in, see how difficult it is for you to find things to be grateful for. Does finding something you are grateful for feel difficult, rubbing up against your pride, or does it spring forward from an overflowing heart? The great thing is, the more we practice gratitude, the more our perspective will naturally shift to notice the light before we notice the darkness.
I do not know about you, but for me, it is about this part in the post where my shame and perfectionism start to make their debut. When I read something that points to an action I want to take, shame and perfectionism pop up to say hello quicker than Trump can post on Twitter. So I’m going to stop now and say, ANY practice of gratitude is better than none. This is not an all or nothing thing. Some moments we remember to be grateful, and some moments it is the best we can do to make it home without attacking another human being. Some moments we express gratitude with celebration, and sometimes we express gratitude through gritted teeth. IT IS OKAY! Baby steps are still steps.
Wanting to offer a practical gratitude baby step, I began to wonder what the gift of gratitude could bring to each Enneagram type. By talking with friends of different types, and by also attempting to place myself in the shoes of each Enneagram type, I determined that although gratitude is helpful for everyone, it can work to heal our specific and individual blind spots. Every type has an area where it is much easier to gravitate towards seeing the darkness rather than the light. So if you are interested, feel free to reference the below list I created in order to see how the practice of gratitude might aide you in particular. My hope is that gratitude will lead you to see that when things are difficult, we are growing, and when things are great, we get to celebrate! And despite whichever camp you happen to fall into at the moment, I am grateful for you, and you are worthy of being grateful of!
Type 1: Gratitude helps me - Accept Imperfections
It is one thing to notice imperfections. It is a whole other ballgame to practice being
grateful for the imperfections that we find. This is no easy task, but if only for the sole purpose of it being an opportunity to practice grace, then seeing the good in the very things that seem oh SO not good is, well…very good.
Type 2: Gratitude helps me - Receive
Seeing the darkness for Type 2 can look like scanning for ways that others are selfish or ungrateful. However, seeing the light is flipping the script in a way where we now scan for the times that others ARE reaching out to help us and love on us well, and soaking in those precious moments. If we are not acknowledging or receiving the ways in which we are being loved, then how can we ever feel loved?
Type 3: Gratitude helps me - Rest
When I am grateful for what I have in this moment, I realize that there is no need to
strive to obtain more, for now is sufficient. I realize that there is good to find here, despite my shortcomings. And if there is good here now, there will continue to be good in my future, when I get there…despite my efforts. We do not pry open a flower for it to bloom. We simply sit back and watch its beauty unfold.
Type 4: Gratitude helps me - Notice Abundance
Seeing the darkness for Type 4 can look like scanning for ways that others have more, and therefore, how I have less. With an eye heavy on my internal world and other’s external worlds, gratitude allows us to switch it up, so I begin to acknowledge all of the greatness surrounding me, as well as the person beneath the life they are projecting. Even more so, it allows me to see that, there is enough goodness in this world for both of us to experience it, even if our experience of it looks different. Blessings are blessings, no matter what clothes they decide to wear.
Type 5: Gratitude helps me - Engage with Others
When engaging with the world seems tiresome, gratitude is a wonderful tool to help Type Fives create a bridge to the people they care about most. We can tend to look at people as energy drainers, but when we focus on the ways in which we are grateful for people, we begin to notice the many ways in which they are actually giving us energy.
Type 6: Gratitude helps me - Acknowledge Positive Outcomes
In scanning for worst case scenarios, we spend a lot of time on what could be. By
practicing gratitude, we are given the opportunity to spend time on what is. By spending our energy finding what could go bad, we are missing the many things that are going well staring us right in the face. And the more we celebrate what has gone right, the less we feel like things will always go wrong.
Type 7: Gratitude helps me - Experience Satisfaction
It is one thing to be grateful in order to avoid pain. It is another thing to be grateful because you have experienced pain. Only by walking through our suffering will we ever see the gifts it will bring us. And true satisfaction is found in the gifts. When we start searching for options and experiences, we do not find more gifts, just more opportunities for gifts. There is a difference.
Type 8: Gratitude helps me - Surrender
We could try to control gratitude, forcing ourselves to be grateful for things we are not really grateful for. Or we could simply soften our stance enough to be affected by the world around us, so that are hearts will naturally well up with gratitude despite whether we want it to or not. The first approach is gratitude because of me. The second approach is me because of gratitude.
Type 9: Gratitude helps me - Be Present
As a Type Nine, it can be all to easy to check out of life, and to simply numb out. If my life were a candle, it is as easy as just blowing it out, calling it a day, and going to bed. Gratitude is a helpful tool to encourage us to remain awake to our human experience. We cannot celebrate what we are not aware of.
Rooted Resilience Counseling was born out of my very own broken yet real, beautifully gritty story. And because you most likely have a broken yet beautiful story as well, I am glad you are here. I know what it is like to want to turn away from our brokenness in fear or shame. I also know what it is like to experience anxiety and pressure, both internally and externally, that lunges us towards chasing after our own brokenness in a frantic attempt to fix it – the mirage that is perfection. Yet the hiding and striving left me both exhausted and disconnected from myself. I wonder if you have, or are, experiencing this same exhaustion and disconnection? If so, you are so not alone.
Many clients believe that by coming to counseling, the brokenness that they see and hate in themselves will be eradicated. We run towards our beautifully written story with a giant eraser, ready to edit with every statement. If only I can wipe this brokenness slate clean, then I can have a fresh start with the beautiful. But what I know is true, is that beautiful is only seen in the reflection of what is broken. You, dear one, are not a problem to be fixed, nor an accident that needs to be cleaned up. Your story, every single ounce of it, is worthy of being seen and heard. If your story was not worthy of such a thing, it would not currently be in the process of being written this very moment. This is the truth I would like you to awaken to, that purpose and joy is not found despite your story, but because of it.
Experiencing this truth for the first time was a beginning step of great healing for me. When you begin to look at pain and regret with compassion, you reconnect with yourself. The ripple moves into how you receive other’s stories, leaving you more connected with others as well. And where there is true intimacy, true healing is never far behind. Ironically, the very moment we stop trying to change our stories is the very moment new direction and fresh life start to emerge. There is freedom in your brokenness. Will you allow yourself to break?
I am human. I have not “arrived.” This concept of seeing the beauty in brokenness is at times so sharply believable and tangible, that courage, confidence and peace flow effortlessly. But just like the changing ocean tides, there are other times when the concept is fuzzy at best. Encouragement is found in the very fact that without the fuzzy days, I would not be given the opportunity to slow down and reconnect to myself – that inner voice of truth that says, “Remember me. Wisdom lives here.” And in that sweet reunion, stronger rooting of what is true about myself and others – that we are inexpressibly lovable despite the messes we find ourselves in, can begin to take place.
I find myself in awe quite often when leaving my office at the end of the day, knowing the great privilege I have been given in being a hearer of stories. My clients believe they are handing me only broken, not knowing I get the honor of walking away with beautiful on the other end. So thank you, for reminding me that I am not alone in my own brokenness, and also for showing me over and over again, that in the sacred space where broken meets broken, beauty can and does emerge.