Sadness’s Big Brother

Anger. It shows up when our boundaries are being pushed, when we feel unsafe, hurt, rejected. When we feel sad and hurt, we often protect ourselves with anger.

Anger feels powerful. There’s an energy to anger that feels helpful and protective to us. And sometimes, it is. Sometimes it can help by giving us the energy and power to restore those broken boundaries and take any necessary action to make ourselves feel safe.

Sometimes, however, anger isn’t helpful. It may have helped us to a certain point – like crutches when we break our leg. Hanging onto anger is like using crutches once you’ve healed. And it can be difficult to switch our mindset on anger, because it had been so helpful up until now. But there’s a point when it becomes damaging and that’s when we need to delve deeper, and deal with the underlying sadness and hurt and pain that lies underneath that protective fire ball.

Actually expressing anger is a new thing for me, and I’ve become much more comfortable being pissed off than I am with just being sad.

My emotional reaction to being hurt or feeling rejected is now usually “FUCK YOU” instead of “That hurts, I’m sad”. My relationship with anger changed from it being unsafe to it being my protector – unfortunately it has lead to the point that I’m overusing it. My default to be angry and want to say “FUCK IT!” is a huge change from the victimized girl who was just at mercy of being hurt and not being worthy enough to even be mad, and certainly too weak to change things or leave what was hurting her.

 

In a way I love my default to anger and “fuck it” response, because in many ways it’s so much better than my old unworthy-self hatred-helpless default of suppressing emotion and believing I just had to stay stuck. That being said, this new default is problematic too. I swung to the other side of the pendulum, and it’s not the best place to be either. I get that it developed to protect me. And part of the problem is that I still buy into the story that without it I’ll slip back into the old ways of dealing with all these feelings and painful situations. That story, and my reactions, are things I’m actively working on. I need to find a better in between.

Because I know, not everything that hurts is harmful. A lot of things that hurt can be opportunities to grow and heal. And being hurt is part of life, even (especially?) when it comes to people we care about.

 

Anger is a guardian of our boundaries. If we can pay attention to the feedback of our reactions, such as anger, we can see why it shows up and what needs to be restored. It can also help us look deeper into why we feel the need to protect and what other emotions are beneath it – like we’re looking past the big brother who’s standing tall and yelling at the bullies, to see the crying little brother with a scraped knee sitting on the pavement behind him. What emotions came up for us that we felt the need to protect ourselves? What emotions need to be processed, beyond the anger that is out front and center?

I find this very difficult. Sadness and hurt feels more draining than anger; though I’m sure most of that comes from actually resisting the sadness and making judgments about it, than it does from actually just being sad. My experience is that it’s easier to get side-tracked from the feeling and turn things inwards when it’s sadness. I start making judgments about myself and giving into the unworthy stories; where with anger I’m more likely to be making those judgments about the other person.

And the answer to all of it? Lean in with COMPASSION. Observe your reaction to say “fuck it”, beat yourself up, avoid the sadness, to puff up or want to run and hide… with compassion. And then encourage yourself to look deeper. You aren’t just angry, ever. And the angrier you are, the more emotions are hiding behind it.

 

Thoughts from above the clouds.

On a journey that feels surreal. I look back on this past year; it was actually a few days shy of a year ago I was on my way to finish my life coaching program.

Full of ambition, determination, and passion. And yet, I had no idea how far I’d go from there. I had no idea I’d end up back in Ontario as a Teaching Associate the very next year. I was in the planning stages of my businesses at that time; and freaking out about how crazy I was to actually try this – how ludicris it was to actually be planning to leave a full-time steady pay cheque with nothing but my ideas and hopes to fall on. I yo-yo-ed between excitement and terror, faith and doubt – with a strong dose of judgment of myself for even thinking for a second I could pull this off. Something that was clearly too good to be true.

And yet I knew I had to try. It was around the time of my Ontario trip that I was reaching the tipping point – where the fear of not trying was greater than the fear of failing.

Now I don’t want to give you the wrong impression here, it’s not like I’m some super success story of being a full-time coach yet. However, I am fully supporting myself with self-employment and I am living the life I want to live – including coaching- while continuing to expand on the coaching business I started this year.

I am proud. And yes I’m going to say that and not feel guilty or let myself erase it. It makes me squirm to admit it, but I’ve made enough peace with that squirmy uncomfortable place I teeter on when riding that self-worth seesaw, that I’m letting myself own it – as much as I squirm while doing it. Because, truth be told, I am fucking proud of myself.

For not letting fear hold me back. For not letting pretty significant life events and circumstances hold me back. For going after what I want even when that goes against the norm. For deciding that I am worth it. For deciding to live. For creating a life I’m excited to live. For figuring out what my calling is. For making my dreams a reality. For being able to write that I’m proud of myself and own it, along with everything else I did to get here.

 

There’s a lot of growing still to do. Lots of expanding on my business to do. Lots of learning and failing. Lots of living and adapting. Even still, I have a weird sense of having already “made it”. And I think it’s because I’ve made a pretty significant shift in my way of thinking about, and living life. I’ve made a switch from suffering until I make it to living my ideal lifestyle WHILE making it.

 

And I’m not naive; I know there may come a time when something happens and I won’t feel this way or maybe I won’t be able to live the way I want. But enough has happened already that I am certain it won’t break me. I even have my doubts that there is something that would cause me to sacrifice my lifestyle or values. That being said, it’s not that I don’t do my fair share of “sacrificing” aka MAKING CHOICES that may not be ideal – like living in an “apartment” without a kitchen, but I am clear and firm on what I’m willing to sacrifice and what I am not. And being able to live the way I want (mostly meaning being able to have ownership over my TIME) means the most to me. It’s now my non-negotiable and I plan to always build my life around that.

I know I want to live the rest of my life LIVING my life. And I am confident that involves coaching; helping others find their wings and live their best life.

I was starting to freak out about being old earlier this week. Will I regret these decisions when I’m 40? 50? But really, should I be trying to live for future me? Should I even be trying to guess what future me will want? It doesn’t seem like a very valid plan. I mean, old or not, I’ll still be me. And I guess I figure it will be up to the present me to figure out how to make my life meaningful and matter at that age, just like it’s up to 31 year old me to do that now. And if I have regrets, well, that’s just life I suppose. It’s funny to think of this retrospectively though, because everything I imagined 31 year old me would want when I was 20, or even 28, is completely off the mark from what is currently making my life awesome. In fact, I believe I’d be less happy now if I had what 28 year old me wanted me to have. So, more reason to not try to guess what 50 year old Jeana would want me to set up for her to be happy, and just live my fucking life as I know it now.

Maybe my 50 year old self will be ecstatic to be living in a bus, maybe she’ll rather build a mansion, or maybe she’ll rather travel the world endlessly. Fuck knows. So why bother worrying or trying to plan for it? You do you future self, I’ll do me.

The plane’s about to land. I’m ready to take on the next part of my journey, keeping my head above the clouds.