How I weather my inner storms has changed over the years.
When I was younger and was upset, I would retreat to my room and lose myself in countless books. Reading was something I loved to do (still do) and it was a way of disappearing from the storm of feelings that would only get me into trouble. I would spend hours curled up on my white beanbag chair and get lost in the adventures of the many books I would borrow from the local library. This gave me the time and space I needed to allow those feelings to run their course and bounce back to my naturally happy self. Playing outside was also an outlet. On my own, I was happy to colour or swing in the playground, or lie in the grass and see animals and shapes in the clouds. With friends, I was always up for something. Skipping, hide and seek, red rover, tag, swimming. Moving, running, laughing, sweating. I never stayed sad or upset for long when I was outside and having fun!
In my teens, I loved school since it was a place that my answers and opinions were asked for and valued. I liked the discussion of ideas and differing opinions. I enjoyed learning from my teachers, friends and other students. It was here that I learned that it was possible to respectfully disagree with someone and not take it personally. The art of debate. (Which unfortunately seems to be a lost skill in the era of social media.) I didn’t shy away from conflict and often was the peace broker in disagreements between friends. My growing confidence had me challenging authority at home, mostly with my Mom. The conflicts at home always rose from feeling I wasn’t being heard and respected, and major inconsistency with the house rules (my curfew would change from week to week with no reason or explanation). This drove me crazy!! I would lose it, yelling, shaking and crying and feeling utterly frustrated that it was all so unfair. Then I would be embarrassed that I allowed my feelings to run away from me like that. My response to that was to move out at eighteen and be responsible for myself, for better or worse.
As an adult, this theme continued. I was confident, positive and outgoing for the most part. But when I felt demeaned or disrespected, I would respond in one of three ways. Either the argument was on (and I could be sharp and unrelenting), I would isolate myself until I could control myself, or I would leave. Classic fight or flight stress response! As a young adult, I would bounce between healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with the raging emotions. Sometimes I would drink too much, eat too much, and sleep too little. Other times I’d go for a run or hit the gym.
Over time, I realized that putting the lid on my emotions only made them worse. It was fun to party, but the next day…not so much fun🤢. Isolating and intellectualizing my feelings ended up creating more stress and whopper of a headache.🤦🏻♀️
But when I made healthier choices I always felt better and the situation usually worked out better too. I began adding in healthier options like prepping my own meals, journaling, meditating, reading personal development books, trying alternative modalities like massage, Reiki, and reflexology. Now I have a whole list of options to use when I feel triggered.
Our emotions are normal and natural. They ebb and flow like the waves in the ocean. I’ve learned that if I try to make a decision when I’m in the grip of negative emotion, it almost never works out well. When I’m stressed out, I’ve activated my body’s natural survival mode and it’s difficult to create from that space. If I just honour the emotion and allow myself to feel it and do whatever feels good for me in that moment…and sometimes that means doing nothing…then the emotion runs its course. It’s then, in that space, that I open myself to the possibility of creating a positive solution, or receive an inspired thought, or feel the impulse to an inspired action. What are some of your healthy outlets?