Joy Tip Wednesday: Be With Yourself

Whatup Wednesday & Joy Voyagers!  Confession time...this weekend I was soooo angry.  I mean beet red angry.  Or candy apple red is more like it.  I haven't felt anger like that in a long time.  So what's a girl to do? 

So many of us who care about yoga, mindfulness, awareness, self development, can fall into the bandwagon of not allowing ourselves human moments.  I mean I'll speak for myself here and say sometimes I expect myself not to be human.  And that's just hilarious because as long as I'm in this plain of existence I'll still have human moments.  I'll fall out of being as mindful as I was the second before.  I'll get tired and loose my cool.  I'll tune out of a conversation when I really want to tune in.  I'll get angry when I feel I've been wronged.  So now what?

Here's what I decided to do when anger showed up on Saturday.  It had been an intense few days leading up to the infamous "can I throw a dish?" moment.  Part of it I get has to do with the cosmos.  Full Moon.  Mercury retrograde.  Crazy barometric pressure changes as a massive snow storm took her wrath on DC.  As an empath I feel these things.  I get it.  But also, a lot of it had to do with just me.  I was feeling emotionally exhausted after the person I'm currently seeing and I had a series of fights starting Wednesday evening.  It's still not really clear to me how the rumble and tumble all started, but that's beside the point because by Saturday my nerves were shot.

I saw my phone light up showing a call from him Saturday morning and two thoughts came to me:  answer the phone...he's making an effort...and on second thought, better call later because you're totally shot and pretty angry this morning.  Mmmmm I picked up the phone anyways.  I made every intention of being that thoughtful person that saw he was making an effort after having such an absolutely exhausting back and forth the night before.  So I was hanging out there and then the next thing I knew...somehow we were in the fight cycle again.  Was it because I was totally shot and angry?  Probably.  He probably was too.  And the result was an otherwise normal conversation that somehow turned nasty. 

When I hung up the phone I suddenly felt like I hated dating.  (Imagine me yelling..) I hated dating.  I hated men.  I hated romantic relationships.  Seriously, it's all shit.  I felt like throwing a dish on the floor.  I felt like burning a bra.  I was getting pretty humorous. 

I sat myself on the couch and turned on Portlandia on my laptop and armed myself with some chocolate.  This show always makes me laugh without fail.  And instead I just felt myself stewing and grumpy.  That's it I your meditation cushion.  I sat down on my favorite blue cushion in front of my alter that I sit in front of each morning and evening as a reminder of what I care about and I was still just....irritated.  Just be with it, I told myself.  And it was in that instance, I thought...wait a minute...that's it!  Be with it.  Of course I needed to hang out with angry Marci not just sit around hoping she'll take off.

Here's what I did.  I related to the anger in myself like the character it was.  You've seen me write about extremist Marci.  And it's through hanging out with extremist Marci like she was this strange friend, or person to follow as part of some curious sociology project that she no longer had power over me.  That she felt understood.  And that I could start choosing a different way of being in that moment.  So I got off my meditation cushion and decided to go hang out with the quasi-fascist man-hating neo-feminist angry Marci.  I mean I'm probably exaggerating, but it kinda felt that crazy in comparison to where my mind usually is.

I asked myself, what does "angry Marci" want to do right now?  What does she need?  First things first...she definitely didn't want to do meditation.  So I changed my clothes, put on my running shoes, and grabbed my phone.  I took "angry Marci" to the gym and turned on some feminist punk music and turned it on full volume.  And then "angry Marci" and I had at it on that elliptical machine.  I sweat, I huffed, I turned red like I do when I work out hard.  I listened to her rant as I moved.  I listened to her sorrow and disappointment underneath.  Her fear.  I followed her back to my apartment and stretched and then...she wanted to sit.   So I got out that royal blue cushion that I sit on and I sat.  And in the stillness of what felt like an eternity, angry Marci softened.  She felt heard and understood.  Honored rather than shut out.  Accepted rather than shunned.

Sometimes the egoic triggers in us soften when we see them.  Sometimes they give up when we direct our energy in a different direction.  And sometimes they are so powerful, cry out in longing to be heard so deeply, that like a small child asking to be heard...we are invited to see them and listen To hang out with them.  To be with them.  And to be absolutely ok, that they exist.  When I've hung out with extremist Marci, or angry Marci, or run away to the forest Marci, or any of the egoic patterns of myself, I allow myself to be human.  I learn to love myself completely and I honor every ounce of my experience rather than anointing some and de-legitimizing others.  This has been a powerful practice for me, and it was a powerful moment for me this weekend that allowed me to soften and see how much I care for the man that was on the other side of my telephone.  It inspired me to be vulnerable and open up more about my feelings.  My fears.  My needs.

The days following Saturday have been rocky.  They've had moments of connection between the two of us and challenge.  But what I'm starting to embrace perhaps more than before is both my humanness in it all, forgiving myself when despite my best efforts, I move to a less mindful way of being.  And as I learn to forgive myself, as I learn to be ok with the messy human reality of my being, it's allowing me to forgive and embrace his humanness as well. 

Ok, so ready to hang out with the noisy parts of yourself?  Here's how to get started:

  1. Notice what part of yourself is calling out to you. It's easy to find when it comes up because it has a lot of energy and is metaphorically waving its arms, flailing around, jumping up and down, and doesn't stop pulling on your shirt or tapping your shoulder.
  2. Create a fun character of this part of yourself.  Have fun and create a way to relate to this part of you that engenders humor and love.  Sometimes I imagine the kind of clothes these parts of myself wear, the makeup, their favorite phrases, what music they listen to, just as if I was going to make them into a little cartoon.  That's how I ended up listen to punk rock on Saturday morning.  I knew that's what angry Marci jams to.
  3. Ask this part of yourself what it wants.  Sometimes I do this internally, sometimes I've even imagined this part of myself sitting in front of me and ask it out loud and see what comes back. 
  4. Ask this part of you what it needs.  What's under the surface.  Another way I love to do this is through journaling.  Sometimes a part of myself wants me to hang out and journal with it and it's in the writing process I find out the answers.
  5. Listen, follow, honor.  Listen to what is needed in that moment and follow it.  Now here's my caveat...if a part of you is having a temper tantrum and is asking for something in relation to someone else....I'm inviting you to just do things that impact you and are supportive to you.  We all know that when we are that jazzed up about something in a not so great way, that additional human connection can be...not so great.  So literally make this a love and gift fest for just yourself.
  6. Notice how you feel.  Notice if there is a softening after you start to hang out with this character of yourself and it feels understood, respected...and most of all...not shunned.  Most of us are pretty great at shunning parts of ourselves. 
  7. Listen on the other side.  Once you feel a softening...listen to what is there underneath.  This is usually where my clarity is born.  Where my insights happen.  When I can see what was really going on.  At this point I've usually moved out of fear into my true way of being and the hard, sharp corners, that seem to be poking into other people have softened.

As usual, I invite you to just simply have fun with this practice.  If you make it a practice that feels like you are trying to fix's not fun.  Make it an exploration, an experiment, a game, anything that feels like there is the spirit of curiosity and openness. 

I'd love to hear about your characters and what you find out after hanging out with them.  Comment below, or write me an e-mail to share.  And in the meantime, have fun learning to be with the unexplored parts of your entire self. 

Every single human life is quite a miracle full of complexity, stories, and layers.  And this week I'm looking forward to continue practicing an embrace of both my own humanity and the humanity of those close to me. 

much love,