In striving for stability, I tamed the wild right out of myself, and with it went desire, passion, excitement, and joy. Stalking stability killed the thriving star, the alive parts of me.
I didn’t have my journal with me, so I typed that into the Notes on my iPhone this morning. I’ve been thinking about it for days, though.
Those of us who are sensitive to stress and conflict can sometimes try to turn down the heat on our feelings. The physical flushing and heart racing can be intense, so it makes sense that we’d want to tone it down a bit. Sometimes our sensations are just “extra,” and we cannot be bothered with feeling them fully. So we decide that we’ll seek - nay, STALK - peace. It becomes the holy grail of our experience, probably because it’s been elusive and fleeting for so long.
But in the human experience, a commitment to peace NO MATTER WHAT is a death sentence to our vitality. It requires squelching self-expression so that you don’t create conflict; numbing awareness in some way so that you don’t know your needs, desires, preferences, and boundaries are being violated. Between the squelching and numbing there’s no room for life to flow.
Imagine your thriving life (creativity, passion, vitality, fun, joy, exuberance, etc.) is like a garden hose. When the channel is open, the water (life) flows easily through it. But squelching self-expression and numbing awareness create kinks in the hose, cutting off the very life that runs through you. My analogy may be incomplete but I think you get the idea.
The remedy to this isn’t to accept a smaller, less exciting version of life. The remedy has three parts:
Become wiling to feel and experience conflict and tension at work and at home. This willingness is what makes the next two steps possible.
Build resilience capacity to tolerate the sensations of conflict and tension that you will inevitably experience.
Learn internal and external communication skills to validate your own experience; understand your needs, preferences, desires, and boundaries; and express these things to the appropriate parties.
Of course, each of these three parts contains its own process. There isn’t a magic pill or a life hack that’s going to suddenly take you from anxious A.F. to calm AND expressive in three breaths. If there was, I would have found it by now. And I’d FOR SURE share it with you. But the reality is that recovering from stress, anxiety, and trauma is a process that takes time. It’s small steps taken consistently over a long period time that will bring about major change.