I tend to think of myself as a work-in-progress because there are always at least a few areas where I am trying to either change grow or improve (and I hope to always be a work-in-progress).
Right now, a lot of the work I’m doing on myself is focused on developing the inner strength and calmness I need to handle the things that come my way. For me, it’s usually about emotions. I’ve always been a more sensitive and emotional person – and in a lot of ways that’s cool, because I get to feel everything. But sometimes, the tough emotions – the fear, the sadness, the hopelessness – they cripple me. When I am sad, I get stuck there. It doesn’t matter what’s going on around me because in my head, I’m stuck in the memory of the sadness and the fog it leaves behind. The emotion is in control. And it’s not just an unpleasant feeling for me; it truly creates a lot of chaos in my life. I am distracted, and my work suffers. I don’t sleep well or eat well and my body responds in kind – I’m achy, queasy, lightheaded. And what I think might be worst of all is that the sadness robs me from the ability to ever really be fully present in a given moment. I guess I’m not sure if that’s the worst part or it’s simply the part that makes me the angriest. Surely, it is the part that makes me the most determined to fight for better.
And when I talked to Brian about it, I told him that – that I was tired of being so controlled by my emotions and that I was ready to learn how to control them.
Except, no – it doesn’t quite work like that.
Because emotions don’t actually give a fuck about much of anything. They don’t care if I’m ashamed of them or if it’s a really awkward time for them to surface – they come and go as they please. They don’t respond to me begging or pleading or threatening them to go away. So Brian has challenged me to stop trying to deny, judge, fight, or overpower the negative emotions. Instead, I am to simply observe them, acknowledge them, and then sit with them.
It’s an approach that has been called “sitting in the belly of your dragon.”
I’m sitting with my dragon right now, actually. Sitting here and writing this post from the belly of the dragon itself, because a sad thing has happened and I can feel myself wanting to run from it. I am ashamed of the way I feel and I want to pull away from this heartbreak so badly. But my work tonight is to dig in my heels here and to walk through this ugly landscape for as long as I need to. To acknowdge, also, that it’s ok to feel sad about things that hurt.
And it’s called ‘work’ because it’s hard. Tonight, it is almost unbearable. But hard isn’t necessarily bad, and the hard work is where the payoff comes from. Right?